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.

Streetsort descending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Stone Ave 37 ZBA2008-13 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer 227A ZBA 2015-60 Sep 16, 2015 PDF icon Plan PDF icon Staff Report 09/16/2015 - 11:21am
Summer 24 ZBA 2016-92 Oct 19, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 7:19pm
Summer 62A 2016-60 Jun 22, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 7:22pm
Summer 204 ZBA 2014-29 May 07, 2014 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 05/01/2014 - 8:38pm
Summer St 200 ZBA 2012-13 Mar 14, 2012 PDF icon SummerSt200.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 03/16/2012 - 10:58am
Summer St 346 ZBA 2014-59 Aug 06, 2014 PDF icon SummerSt346.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2014 - 4:02pm
Summer St 139 ZBA 2014-90 Jan 21, 2015 PDF icon SummerSt139 (WWOP).pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon staff report 03/18/2015 - 1:21pm
Summer St 343-349 ZBA2002-23-R0109 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer St 206 ZBA 2014-14 May 22, 2014 PDF icon SummerSt206.pdf PDF icon Plans 02.24.2014
PDF icon Plans 7.10.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.05
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.07
08/19/2014 - 3:57pm
Summer St 184 ZBA2009-11 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer St 242 N/A 05/20/2010 - 7:28am
Summer St 343-351 ZBA2009-67 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer St 137 ZBA 2019-40 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set for August 7 2019
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for August 21, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
10/16/2019 - 2:29pm
Summer St 68-70 ZBA 2011-41 Jun 08, 2011 PDF icon SummerSt68-70.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/27/2011 - 11:36am


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