About the Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) as a quasi-judicial body charged under the provisions of Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws. The ZBA is the Special Permit Granting Authority for:

  • Variances
  • Special Permit Applications, including Special Permits with Design Review and Special Permits with Site Plan Review
  • Appeals by aggrieved parties of administrative or enforcement decisions
  • Comprehensive Permit Petitions (MGL Chapter 40B)


  • Notes for Applicants

  • Board Members

  • Reports & Decisions

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.
  • The list of anticipated public meeting dates for this Board can be found here.

Orsola Susan Fontano, Chair

Orsola Susan Fontano is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and also volunteers with the Elections Department, the Council of Aging, and the Art's Council. Some of her past affiliations include the Historic Preservation Commission, member of the award-winning Somerville All-American City delegation, and founding president of East Somerville Main Streets. She is self-employed, operating Up, Up & Away balloons since 1981 and managing her sister business Nefertiti Hair Salon since 1977.

Josh Safdie, Clerk

Josh Safdie, AIA, NCARB, is a Principal at KMA, an architecture and consulting practice. He serves as the co-chair of the Access Committee for the Boston Society of Architects and has received awards from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board and the Boston Preservation Alliance for projects merging preservation and accessibility. He is also an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a contributor to Architecture Boston magazine.

Elaine Severino

Elaine Severino is a former educator and small business owner. She spent 5 years serving on the Zoning Task Force Committee that rewrote the previous Somerville Zoning laws and has served in the Zoning Board of Appeals for over 15 years. She is also a member of the Somerville Garden Club and dedicated to helping create better green spaces in Somerville.

Anne Brockelman

Anne Brockelman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C is an architect with two decades of experience in the design profession. She is an Associate Principal and Director of Sustainable Design at Perry Dean Rogers Partners Architects (PDR), a full-service architectural firm specializing in cultural and institutional projects, with a focus on higher education. Her diverse experience includes all project phases from planning, programming through construction, and various project types such as campus and facilities master plans, libraries, and academic buildings. Ms. Brockelman graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Art History and Studio Art, and holds a Master of Architecture from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

Katherine Garavalgia, Alternate


Reports and Decisions

PLEASE NOTE: Applications made before April 15, 2011 are not included in this listing and can be found by clicking here.

Street Number Case Numbersort descending First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Broadway 160 P&Z 21-070 Aug 13, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 08/16/2021 - 3:58pm
Mystic Avenue 400 P&Z 21-075 Aug 16, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 08/24/2021 - 10:49am
South Street 153 P&Z 21-098 Oct 07, 2021 PDF icon Plat Plan PDF icon Staff Memo 09/21/2021 - 4:10pm
Loring Street 27 P&Z 21-116 Oct 06, 2021 PDF icon Administrative Appeal Narrative PDF icon Staff Memo 09/22/2021 - 9:55am
Middlesex Ave Block 21 5 P&Z20-0015 Jun 10, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon SPSR Application PDF icon Staff Memo 08/24/2021 - 2:23pm
Summer Street 73 P&Z20-003 Aug 19, 2021 PDF icon UDC Recommendation PDF icon Project Narrative
PDF icon Sustainability Narrative
PDF icon LEED Gold Checklist
PDF icon Resilient Building Questionnaire
PDF icon TAP
PDF icon TIS
PDF icon MMP
PDF icon AHA and COR
PDF icon Drawings and Plans
PDF icon Neighborhood Meetings Report
PDF icon Staff Memo 09/20/2021 - 9:44am
Tufts Street 31 P&Z20-004 Jun 23, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Application
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Staff Memo 07/07/2021 - 4:12pm
Chestnut Street 28 P&Z21-006 Jul 14, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Narrative
PDF icon Staff Memo 09/01/2021 - 3:00pm
Fitchburg Street 28 P&Z21-007 Jul 14, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Narrative
PDF icon Staff Memo 09/01/2021 - 3:01pm
Beacon Street 275 P&Z21-016 Jun 24, 2021 PDF icon Decision 07/07/2021 - 2:37pm
Highland Ave 201B P&Z21-019 Jul 15, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Memo 08/23/2021 - 3:33pm
South Street 121 P&Z21-038 Sep 23, 2021 PDF icon Narrative
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Sustainability Documentation
PDF icon Neighborhood and Design Review Reports
PDF icon Staff Memo 09/20/2021 - 9:45am
Somerville Ave 583 P&Z21-073 Jul 27, 2021 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 07/28/2021 - 10:06am
South Street 111 P&Z21-077 Sep 23, 2021 PDF icon Narrative
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Staff Memo 09/13/2021 - 9:44am
South Street 101 P&Z21-120 Sep 22, 2021 PDF icon Variance Amendment Narrative PDF icon Staff Memo 09/13/2021 - 9:44am


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