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
Thorndike St 41 ZBA 2018-81 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans for August 8, 2018 ZBA
PDF icon Thorndike St 41 - Plans for Aug 22, 2018 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report 11/14/2018 - 12:54pm
Powderhouse Blvd 80 ZBA 2018-82 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Corrected site plan for August 8 2018
PDF icon Staff Report 08/22/2018 - 5:32pm
Powder House Blvd 80 ZBA 2018-82-R1-2-19 Mar 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for May 15 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report for May 15 2019
05/23/2019 - 12:05pm
Sanborn Ave 11 ZBA 2018-83 Sep 17, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission
PDF icon Plan Set - Updated August 2018
PDF icon Plan Set - Updated October 2018
PDF icon Staff Report 10/29/2018 - 3:12pm
Cedar Street 11 ZBA 2018-84 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 4-25-19
PDF icon Plan Set 6-12-19
PDF icon Plan Set 9-4-19
PDF icon Updated Shadows 9-12-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
09/25/2019 - 2:20pm
Dane Street 54 ZBA 2018-85 Aug 22, 2018 PDF icon DaneSt54.pdf PDF icon Plan Set 6-12-18
PDF icon Plans 9-5-18
PDF icon Plans 9-12-18
PDF icon Staff Report 09/27/2018 - 2:55pm
Dane St 54 ZBA 2018-85-R1-03-20 Mar 19, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Materials PDF icon Staff Report 04/07/2020 - 9:26am
Trull Street 45-47 ZBA 2018-86 Jul 18, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 6-6-18 PDF icon Staff Report 07/23/2018 - 2:20pm
Holland Street 17-27 ZBA 2018-87 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 6-14-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/13/2018 - 9:54am
Munroe St 1 ZBA 2018-88 Sep 17, 2018 PDF icon Decision WWOP PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report 09/26/2018 - 1:03pm
Lowell Street 125 ZBA 2018-89 Aug 22, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon initial drawing set
PDF icon revised drawing set
PDF icon transportation fact sheet
PDF icon stormwater report
PDF icon staff report
PDF icon revised staff report
PDF icon Planning Board presentation
10/16/2018 - 3:49pm
Quincy Street 12 ZBA 2018-90 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Deck Plan 2-2-18
PDF icon Plot Plan 5-14-18
PDF icon Deck Plan 11-16-18
PDF icon Plot Plan 11-28-18
PDF icon Staff Report 8-8-18
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 9-5-18
PDF icon 2nd Updated Staff Report 12-12-18
12/19/2018 - 12:09pm
Medford Street 448 ZBA 2018-91 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 01-25-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/13/2018 - 9:45am
Rush Street 23 ZBA 2018-92 Aug 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 1-25-12 PDF icon Staff Report 08/13/2018 - 9:51am
Highland Ave 124 ZBA 2018-93 Aug 22, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans July 2018
PDF icon Updated Plans July 2019
PDF icon Traffic/Parking Study 2019
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for 9-18-2019 ZBA
PDF icon Updated Traffic Study for 9-18-2019
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report for Sept 18, 2019
10/01/2019 - 2:52pm

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