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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

You-know-what is creeping back in again

You-know-what is creeping back in again

Another rainy day, another indictment.

If you’ve been holding off on buying a new or used electric vehicle until all the state and federal incentives kick in, you can stop waiting.

The state rebates launched last week and they do not preclude you from potentially participating in the federal programs too, and vice versa.

But there are many qualifying limitations. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser does a great job explaining them here

Nine Newton councilors call to delay village center plan 

The City of Newton has been working since early 2021 on a plan that would make it easier for small businesses to open in village centers and gradually add smaller homes and apartments close to shops and public transit.

The years-in-the-making zoning proposal needs some minor tweaking. But it’s earned rave reviews from environmentalistshousing advocates the League of Women Voters , and many others.

And, finally, after many, many community meetings, revisions, and deliberations, the Creating Vibrant Village Centers proposal is on schedule for a vote this fall.

Except now a group of nine city councilors are looking to kick the can down the road and postpone progress until next year.

This time they're arguing that Newton should hold off until after the city meets a Dec. 31 deadline to comply with MBTA Communities Law, even though the current village center overlay maps thoughtfully incorporate the law’s requirements into this proposal. (Read the Globe story here and an FAQ here.)

Don't let this new argument fool you: The majority of the councilors who’ve signed the letter seeking delay have a history of opposing and slowing any housing growth in Newton.

Meanwhile, home prices across the region just reached another record high and the circumstances for employers since we shot this video in 2019 have only worsened.

The true way to save Newton’s villages is by making it less onerous to open small businesses and by adding vibrancy, customers, and workers for our restaurants and retailers.

This is precisely what this plan does and why it should not be delayed.

The nine can kickers' request is included in the meeting materials for tonight’s (Aug. 15) Zoning & Planning Committee meeting at 7 p.m. 

Looking to understand what MBTA Communities is all about? 

Newton must submit its MBTA Communities Plan to the state by the end of the year. Needham, Watertown, and Wellesley are laying the groundwork for their submissions due at the end of 2024.

With that in mind, we’ve just added one of the law's leading experts to the lineup at our Fall Real Estate Forum, on Sept. 12 on the UMass/Mt. Ida campus.

Chris Kluchman has been the point person for the MBTA Communities Law since its inception, first under Gov. Charlie Baker and now for Gov. Maura Healey. 

We’ll also be hearing from Lee Pelton, President & CEO of the Boston Foundation. Pelton will share his perspective and the latest research and housing demographic trends, including through an equity lens.

Register here.

You-know-what is creeping back in again

COVID-19 is on the rise again in Massachusetts, reaching its highest levels in many months, reports WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey.
The amount of virus in Boston-area wastewater has increased since late June and is the highest since the end of the state of emergency ended in May,healthcare
The rate of positive cases is 9%, a six-month high. And that does not account for rapid tests taken at home. That’s still far below previous waves of COVID, Dayal McCluskey notes.

The increase comes as one national chain just banned employees from wearing masks and some of the state’s healthcare leaders are pushing back against the many proposed vaccine exemptions for healthcare workers. 

Tuesday's grab bag 

  • Needham Police say they’ve nabbed the suspect involved in a mailbox fishing and check washing scheme that had led them to advise residents and businesses to stop using US postal mailboxes and drop off their mail only inside the post office. (Needham Observer)

  • Watertown City Manager George Proakis and Council President Mark Sideris presented the first annual state of the city address last week. It’s a good overview of where Watertown’s municipal government is these days and its priorities. Video here and slides here.

  • The New England-Israel Business Council hosts “Breaking into the US Market: Why Israeli Companies Choose Boston as their global launching pad,” a virtual program on Sept. 7 at 11 a.m.

  • Suzuki Preschool of Newton in Waban has open slots for full-time child care for the coming academic year. The children engage in an age-appropriate academic and arts curriculum, especially Suzuki music education. Call 617-964-5565.

  • Babson College’s Undergraduate Student Resource Fair on Sept. 8 offers a chance for local businesses to gain exposure to undergraduate students as well as advertise for any job openings. Bring samples, marketing materials, discounts, to and anything else you think would attract students to your table. Sign up for a table or email questions.

  • JPMorgan Chase is shutting down two of the five Massachusetts branches it acquired through First Republic. So far at least, the Wellesley branch isn’t one of them. (BBJ)

  • The deadline to apply to be an exhibitor at the Oct. 1 Needham Harvest Fair is next Monday. Scroll down for details.

Dental insurer steps back as another looks to enter 

Guardian Life just told some 1,500 small businesses in Massachusetts that it will no longer sell dental insurance policies to companies with fewer than 25 employees starting in January.

They’re blaming a law passed last fall by voters that requires at least 83 percent of revenue from dental insurance premiums be spent on patient care, writes the Globe’s Jon Chesto.

Other insurers may follow, according the head of the National Association of Dental Plans.

But Chesto also reports that a new player, BeneCare Dental Plans of Philadelphia, is looking to expand in Massachusetts just as the rules for the new law are being put into place.

Meet July's new chamber members! 

Please join us in welcoming our newest Charles River Regional Chamber members.

Learn about the many benefits of belonging to our chamber here. Or shoot us an email to schedule a consultation.

Needham declares emergency, but Volante Farms is OK

Needham declared a state of emergency last week in connection with those flash floods one week ago this morning (Aug. 8).

Needham Local explores the reasons behind the severe flooding and the town has posted resources and helpful links and state Rep. Denise Garlick has posted other information.

But we're happy to report that Volante Farms was not harmed by the storm as badly as first reported by one local news site.

"True, parts of our fields are wiped out beyond recovery and parts are sick. But much of what we grow is still continuing to provide, and our crew is busy keeping up with the harvest season (though donning their rainboots more often than they'd like)," the Volantes posted on Facebook.

"What's the best thing you can do right now regardless of where you live?" the post continued. "SHOP LOCAL. Support your local farmers. Know where your produce comes from. And take it one step beyond food - support your local restaurants and retailers before turning to online giants, whenever possible."

Sounds right to us!

That’s what you need to know for today, unless you need to know why we eat so much at the movies.

Be back Friday!

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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