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 Numbersort descending Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Thurston St 79 ZBA 2015-42 Aug 05, 2015 PDF icon ThurstonSt79.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/20/2015 - 9:01am
Benton 79 ZBA 2016-54 Aug 03, 2016 PDF icon BentonRd79.pdf PDF icon Benton Rd 79 - Final Plans.pdf PDF icon Benton Rd 79 - Staff Report.pdf 09/17/2018 - 4:50pm
Bow St 79 ZBA2009-06 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Broadway 79-83 PB2010-05 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Partridge Ave 7a ZBA2008-12 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Mt. Vernon St 8 ZBA 2013-51 Aug 07, 2013 PDF icon MountVernonSt8.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2013 - 9:05am
Whipple Street 8 ZBA 2017-96 Oct 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-30-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 12:54pm
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
Hamilton Road 8 ZBA 2017-09 Mar 15, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Updated Plan Set
PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report
08/06/2018 - 11:37am
Fennell St 8 ZBA 2013-44 Jul 10, 2013 PDF icon FennellSt8.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/18/2013 - 1:29pm
Curtis St 8 ZBA 2013-72 Jul 17, 2014 PDF icon CurtisSt8.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Traffic and Parking Assessment
PDF icon Drainage Report
PDF icon Plans 8.14.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.07.11
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.08.14
08/28/2014 - 9:28am
Mt. Vernon St 8 ZBA 2012-30 May 16, 2012 PDF icon MtVernonSt8.pdf PDF icon Plot & Site Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/11/2012 - 1:03pm
Tyler St 8 ZBA 2011-80 Nov 16, 2011 PDF icon TylerSt8.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 12/02/2011 - 12:19pm
Spring Hill Terrace 8 ZBA 2017-58 Jul 12, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 6-7-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 11:50am
Appleton Street 8-10 ZBA 2017-120 Dec 13, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-11-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:51am

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