The following is an excerpt from a Boston Globe editorial endorsing the Northland project.
America’s wealthy suburbs need to change. They need to allow more affordable housing, so that low-income families can access top-notch public schools and the lifetime opportunities they create. They need more housing, period, to cool the real estate market that’s crushing middle-class families. And they need denser housing as a way to address climate change.
In other words, they need more housing like the Northland project, a proposed 800-unit development at an old factory site in Newton Upper Falls, whose fate Newton voters will decide in a hotly contested March 3 referendum. The Globe strongly endorses a “yes” vote to approve the project — and not just for its many practical benefits for Newton and for the region, from new parks to set-asides for mom-and-pop businesses.
The greater significance of the project is that it represents a new way of thinking about the suburbs, at a time of growing awareness that the land use restrictions of that last century have exacerbated racial segregation, environmental destruction, and income inequality. The vote is shaping up as a referendum not just on the Northland project, but also on a movement that has been gaining steam over the last decade to rethink long-cherished traditions and laws in order to forge solutions to some of the most deeply entrenched problems in American society.