A group of Newton city councilors is proposing a temporary suspension of rules allowing officials to designate area properties as local landmarks while the city considers whether to make changes to the regulations.
The City Council, Historical Commission, the mayor, the city’s director of planning, and the city’s commissioner of inspectional services are authorized by ordinance to designate local landmarks in order to “promote the educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public,” according to the city’s ordinance.
Landmark status is intended to help preserve and protect local lands, buildings, and structures that are significant to the history the city and the state, according to the ordinance.
Since the ordinance was implemented in 1993, about two dozen landmark designations have been made, according to Ward 3 City Councilor at Large Andrea Kelley.
In the past year, about seven new landmarks have been proposed, all in West Newton, she said.
The proposed suspension would “prevent and suspend the nominating, processing, and approval of any future landmarks or any property currently under consideration for landmark designation,” according to the measure, which appeared on the City Council’s July 8 docket.
If approved, it would “allow the city adequate time to review the landmark ordinance and consider what revisions are appropriate,” according to the docket item.
The suspension would only apply to the City Council and Historical Commission, Kelley said. The mayor, the director of planning, and the commissioner of inspectional services would still be able to seek landmark designations, she said.
Kelley said city councilors hope to start working on the ordinance in the fall. That work would be the first time since 1993 that those rules have been reviewed, she said.
An update for the landmark designation could take a year, she said.
The proposed temporary suspension on seeking new landmark designations would expire at the end of 2020, Kelley said.
The proposal was submitted by Kelley and fellow City Councilors Susan Albright, Jacob Auchincloss, Deborah Crossley, Andreae Downs, Richard Lipof, Maria Scibelli Greenberg, Joshua Krintzman, James Cote, Brenda Noel, Alison Leary, and Victoria Danberg.
The City Council’s Zoning & Planning Committee, which is led by Albright, is expected to discuss the proposal on July 15, according to the City Council clerk’s office.