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About the Urban Design Commission

The Urban Design Commission (UDC) conducts design review of development proposals, provides advice and recommendations to the other Review Boards concerning how the design of proposed development will affect the quality of Somerville’s public realm, and provides advice and recommendations to City Staff when required by a permit condition issued by the Review Boards.

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More specifically, design review is intended to:

  • Maintain, protect and enhance existing buildings of historical and architectural significance,
  • Foster new development that is aesthetically compatible with existing buildings and infrastructure,
  • Encourage and assist building owners to restore and rehabilitate existing buildings in a cost effective, sensitive manner and in such a way as to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,
  • Encourage originality and creativity in the design of new buildings and additions, or the remodeling of existing buildings, and
  • Maintain and enhance the appearance of signage, new and existing.
Contact Information
Sarah Lewis
Director of Planning

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Phone Number

93 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143
United States

Employee Directory

Rules of Policy and Procedure 

The UDC recently updated their Rules of Policy and Procedure. These Rules establish the organization of the Board, standards of conduct, meeting schedules and management protocols, protocols for application review, and other rules as required. 

Notes for Applicants

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.


  • Sarah Lewis, Co-Chair Director of Planning & Zoning 
  • Luisa Oliveira, Co-Chair Director of Public Space & Urban Forestry 
  • Andrew Arbaugh 
  • Deborah Fennick 
  • Cheri Ruane 
  • Tim Talun 
  • Frank Valdez 
  • Tim Houde, Alternate 


Urban Design Commission meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Please see published legal notifications and online agendas at 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.

Reports & Decisions

View Reports & Decisions

Agendas and Minutes


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