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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

Who would do this?

Who would do this?

It’s an act of vandalism that’s hard to fathom.

Late last week, vandals snuck onto the grounds of the nonprofit Newton Community Farm, uprooting hundreds of plants from the city’s only working farm.

“Someone, or multiple people, took basil, scallions, eggplant, and cucumbers planted in the field and trays of cucumber, tomato, kale, corn, and other seedlings from the new greenhouse,” writes Sue Bottino, the nonprofit’s executive director.
“They stole hundreds of plants. Whomever took these plants knew what they were doing and targeted certain crops and even certain plants. They tried to find the scallions by first picking some leeks and then onions before they found what they were looking for. They took other plants by digging them out from the roots, presumably so they could be re-planted. They removed cloth that was over the eggplant and cucumber plants in the field and took them.”
“These plants were being grown for our community: for our CSA sharers, farm stand and farmers' market customers, and for donation to the Newton Food Pantry and Freedge. We are devastated and angered by what happened and the impact to our community.”  
Police are investigating and donations to the nonprofit would be very much appreciated.

We outnumber the NIMBYs

new Zillow poll finds many Greater Boston residents back the idea of adding density to their particular neighborhood, including over half who back buildings with up to 10 units.
The survey also suggests locals see connections between added density and solving problems like climate change, traffic and the region’s high home purchase prices and rents, writes James Sanna at Banker & Tradesman.
"Most relevant for Beacon Hill policymakers and housing advocates, 68 percent of the poll’s respondents said they would welcome accessory dwelling units in their neighborhoods without any conditions," he adds.

Nearly three out of four Boston-area respondents believe more small and medium-sized apartments in residential neighborhoods would create more affordable housing options, while 63 percent said they thought it would encourage residents to take public transit, walk or bike.

Fossil fuel ban in new construction and renovations on agenda 
The Newton City Council will hold a public hearing tomorrow (June 15) at 7 p.m. to consider a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the use of fossil fuels in new commercial and residential construction as well as major renovations.
The restrictions would fall under the state’s 10 Communities Act pilot program and is dependent on Newton meeting certain affordable housing goals and other circumstances outlined in this memo.
The pilot would exempt bio labs and medical research facilities and offices, outdoor cooking appliances, emergency generators, and some other categories.
Because the state regulations and proposed ordinance is not final, this will not be the last public hearing on the topic.
But generally speaking, the proposed regulations could come as a surprise to any property owner contemplating a renovation, developers, property owners, etc. so we recommend paying attention to this proposal.

355 Newton buildings could also face new energy use limits 
In addition to the 10 Communities Pilot, Newton's City Council and the Fuller administration are also working on adopting an energy reporting and reduction program targeting large buildings that's modeled after Boston’s BERDO program.
Consultants hired by the city have identified 355 large buildings that could be subject to the first round of Newton BERDO.

That includes building over 20,000 feet gross floor area or a residential building of equal or greater than either 15 units or 20,000 feet. Residential condominiums would not be included at this time, according to a recent memo.
Under Newton’s proposed draft, emissions standards will take effect in 2026 at the earliest for a subset of the largest buildings. Other types and sizes of buildings will be phased in later.
The energy reporting requirement will take effect for a portion of the largest buildings in 2024, at the earliest, for calendar year 2023 energy use.

Tuesday grab bag

  • Plans to build nearly 70 condos across four acres at the intersection of Cliff Road and Rte. 9 is creating some abutter anxiety. There will a public meeting to discuss the proposal Thursday (June 15) 7 p.m. at the Wellesley High School cafeteria.   (Swellesley Report)

  • An updated federal law that expands the number of breastfeeding mothers who must be allowed pumping breaks also applies to remote workers. (BizWomen)

  • Then there’s the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which goes into effect June 27. It extends the Americans with Disabilities Act to cover pregnant workers. Businesses with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. (BBJ)

  • A strip mall restaurant that introduced many locals to Thai cuisine, Green Papaya in Waltham, is closing after 30 years. (Boston Restaurant Talk)

  • The Newton Juneteenth Celebration takes place Monday (June 19) 12-4 p.m. at the Hyde Playground, Newton Highlands. The event will support local Black-owned businesses and showcase the variety of ways our community promotes equity and inclusion for residents and students of color from diverse backgrounds.

  • The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority is revising its public transportation schedules beginning next week. Changes include adding a second bus to serve the Route 1 fixed route, and re-routing the service to include more locations in Wellesley. Details.

  • Newton Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ciccariello will become the city's commissioner of Inspectional Service, when John Lojek, who held the title for 18 years, retires at the end of this month. 

Nonantum company lands $2M NIH grant

Newton-based Barrett Medical has been awarded a two year, $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop the company’s robotic trainer for recovery from stroke and other neurological injuries and diseases.

Barrett, a chamber member headquartered on Nevada Street, designs and assembles some of the world’s most advanced robots and ships them across the globe.

The NIH award will be shared with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to explore and develop a new technology-based solution to benefit people with stroke and other neurological deficits such as traumatic brain injury and spinal-cord injury.

Brownsberger comes out

Sen. Will Brownsburger

Senator and Senate President Pro Tempore William Brownsberger -- whose district includes Watertown -- celebrated Pride month by coming out as a bisexual. 
His commentary first appeared on his website. It was also published by CommonWealth.

Tax free weekend, Senate tax bill could be set Thursday

It’s looking like Massachusetts annual sales tax holiday will take place the weekend of Aug. 12-13, Senate President Karen Spilka said yesterday.

Lawmakers have until Thursday to agree on the date. If they fail to do so, the revenue commissioner has until July 1 to do so.

Thursday is also when the Senate will take up a nearly $590 million tax relief bill that combines expanded breaks for renters, seniors, caregivers and low-income families with new credits aimed at incentivizing housing development and an increase to the estate tax threshold, notes State House News' Chris Lisinski

Unlike the larger tax relief proposals from Gov. Maura Healey and the House, the Senate's version does not reduce the state's short-term capital gains tax rate.

"A strength of the Senate tax bill is its focus on housing," according to a Mass Taxpayer Foundation analysis. However "its exclusion of capital gains tax reform and more limited estate tax and child and dependent tax credit relief undercuts its ability to meet two key goals: promote Massachusetts’ competitiveness and address high costs of living."

That’s Need to Know for today -- National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day -- unless you need to know which weather record was just broken this month on top of Mont Washington. 
Greg Reibman (he, him)
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