About the Planning Board
The Planning Board is the Special Permit Granting Authority for the Assembly Square Mixed-Use Development (ASMD), Corridor Commercial Development (CCD), and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Districts, Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), Overlay Districts, and Site Plan Approvals. The Board also holds public hearings and renders recommendations to the City Council on zoning amendments.
Development Review Standards:
- Please be advised that, per the standards set out in Article 15 of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance, a development review application is not complete until all required community and Design Review meetings have been held, all necessary information has been submitted, and all fees have been paid. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed, will not be publicly noticed, and will not be scheduled for a public hearing.
- Planning staff will work with applicants to discuss meeting dates and review application materials.
- Applications for large projects may require a longer review period and evaluation by multiple City departments before being deemed complete and scheduled for a public hearing.
- Planning staff reserves the right to ask for additional information or to change meeting dates.
- Michael A. Capuano, Chair
- Amelia Aboff, Vice Chair
- Rob Buchanan, Clerk
- Jahan Habib
- Erin Geno
- Debbie Howitt Easton, Alternate
- Russell Pildes, Alternate
Michael Capuano (Chair)
Mike Capuano has served on the Planning Board since 2008. He is a graduate of Somerville High School, Harvard College, and the Suffolk Law School. He has also served as the Planning Board's designee to the Community Preservation Committee since its inception in 2013 and served two terms as its inaugural Chairman. For the last four years, he has served as Assistant General Counsel at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he represents the Secretariat and its agencies and programs, including the Office of Medicaid.
Amelia Aboff (Vice Chair)
Amelia Aboff is a project manager at Leggat McCall Properties, working with the strategic real estate advisory team on projects for academic and institutional clients. Prior to joining Leggat McCall, she was a development manager at WS Development focusing on mixed-use and retail assets. In earlier roles, Amelia led expansion efforts at Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) and sustainability, urban planning, and economic development initiatives at BuroHappold Engineering. Amelia is an AICP-certified planner and a LEED Accredited Professional.
Rob Buchanan (Clerk)
Rob Buchanan has been a resident of Somerville since 2009 and has been a community advocate on a number of planning and zoning issues, particularly with respect to transformation areas such as Union Square, Boynton Yards, and Assembly Square. He is a member of the Cambridge Health Alliance Board of Trustees and was previously involved in Union Square Main Streets, Union Square Neighbors, and MassDOT's McGrath Boulevard Project Development Working Group. He is a health policy consultant and works on issues centered on improving publicly funded health care for vulnerable populations. Rob earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Jahan Habib is a Global Financial and Accounting Operations Manager at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Office of the Vice President for Finance, where he works on the organization's Global engagements. He is an MBA candidate at Boston College, with a focus on real estate, urban planning, and development. In addition, Jahan is a licensed real estate salesperson and residential property manager.
Since moving to Somerville in 2009 Erin Geno has been active in the community as a citizen participant in zoning overhaul, SomerVision 2040, and as member of the Somerville Garden Club. A multi-modal commuter, avid gardener, and sustainability advocate Erin works in the local biotech sector. She has held positions as a bench scientist and is currently a Senior Analyst in Research Informatics at a Cambridge start-up.
Debbie Howitt Easton
Debbie has been a resident of Somerville since 2002. She is a long-time practicing attorney and currently Assistant General Counsel to Ameresco, a cleantech integrator and renewable energy asset developer, owner, and operator with a portfolio that includes energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, and renewable energy solutions. Prior to moving in-house with Ameresco, Debbie spent most of her career in private practice where her focus was on commercial real estate.
Russell Pildes has been a resident of Somerville since moving to the region from the Midwest in 2017. He is a geographer and professional transportation planner, with special focus on evaluating the differential economic and environmental impacts of development on nearby communities. He has primarily worked in the public sector, including as a planner and policy analyst for the US Department of Transportation. He currently serves as a transportation policy advisor for NESCAUM, an association of the air resource agencies of eight Northeast states. Pildes earned his master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan.
Planning Board meetings are generally held on the first and third Thursday of each month.
Please see published legal notifications and online agendas at somervillema.gov/events. Agendas are published at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting. The meeting dates below are tentative: meetings will only be held if there are items of business on the agenda to be addressed at the meeting, and meetings may be rescheduled or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
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