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
Summer St 1 ZBA2008-43 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer St 336 ZBA 2013-39 Aug 07, 2013 PDF icon SummerSt336.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Staff Report updated for 8-21-2013
PDF icon Plans updated for 8-21-2013
PDF icon Utility plans
PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:23am
Summer St 62C ZBA 2012-88 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon SummerSt62C.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:06am
Summer St 377 ZBA 2015-27 Jul 15, 2015 PDF icon SummerSt377.pdf PDF icon Plan 07.02.2015
PDF icon Plan 07.30.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 07.09.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 07.30.2015
08/20/2015 - 9:02am
Summer St 227A ZBA #2015-60 Sep 16, 2015 PDF icon SummerSt227A.pdf PDF icon Planning Staff Report 09/30/2015 - 1:56pm
Summer St 62B ZBA2009-58 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer St 73 ZBA 2012-91 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon SummerSt73.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Memo 1.3.13
03/29/2013 - 11:43am
Summer Street 36-38 ZBA 2019-56 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-30-19
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 5-12-19
PDF icon Staff Report 07/24/2019 - 9:17am
Summer Street 301 ZBA 2016-144 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/03/2018 - 11:38am
Summer Street 7 ZBA 2018-107-R1-5/19 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-1-19 PDF icon Staff Report 07/02/2019 - 11:07am
Summer Street 343, 345, 349, and 351 ZBA 2017-81 Aug 16, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Original ZBA Decision 12-07-2011
PDF icon Approved Plans 12-07-2011
PDF icon Superior Court Decision 12-09-2015
PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 12:14pm
Summer Street 3-5 ZBA 2018-107 Oct 03, 2018 PDF icon 3 - 5 Summer Street.pdf PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 7-2-18
PDF icon Plan Set 9-27-18
PDF icon Staff Report 10/10/2018 - 1:13pm
Summer Street 301 ZBA #2016-144 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon SummerSt301.pdf 09/20/2018 - 7:24pm
Summer Street 343, 345, 349, & 351 ZBA 2011-54 Sep 20, 2018 PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 7:27pm
Sycamore 8 ZBA 2019-61 Nov 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 11-20
PDF icon Plan Set 12-11
PDF icon Staff Report 01/08/2020 - 4:21pm


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