Get the Real Scoop on 40B, this Sunday at 1:00 PM

If you live in Newton, chances are you have heard the term “40B”. Chapter 40B is a confusing state law that many residents, and even some public officials, don’t completely understand. It allows developers, given certain conditions, to ignore local zoning and build high-density apartment and condo projects almost anywhere they want, including next door to a single-family house in a single-family neighborhood. Newton is a rich target for 40B developers who can rack up big profits on the market rate units in such projects.

If you are interested in knowing more about this law (and you should, since it affects taxes, housing prices, school overcrowding, traffic, and parking, to name a few areas of concern), please consider attending the first event of the Newton Villages Alliance Speaker Series, this Sunday, March 6, 1:00-2:30 pm at the Windsor Club, 1601 Beacon Street in Waban.

Attorney Jonathan Witten, who teaches at BU School of Law, BC School of Law, and Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, and attorney Dennis A. Murphy, who has represented many municipalities on 40B matters, will speak and answer questions at this free public forum. West Newton community leader Julia Malakie will be the moderator.

I hope you will join me at this Sunday’s event, which I expect will be very illuminating. Here’s a question for readers:

What question about 40B would you like answered at Sunday’s event?

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Julia Malakie

I’m very much looking forward to moderating this event. Although I’ve learned a lot about 40B in the last couple of years, there’s still a lot I don’t know. And I think it’s still a rather confusing subject to people, even if they’ve heard of the 40B law. And many people are only vaguely aware, or not at all.

I recently listened to the May 2014 forum on 40B that the Waban Area Council sponsored, and it’s amazing that only two years ago, no one on the panel mentioned that there was another way to satisfy the law, the 1.5% Land Area Minimum, that is much more practical for built-out communities like Newton than the more widely known 10 percent of units. Even though there was much discussion of the difficulty of reaching 10 percent of units.