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 ascending Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Howe St 1 ZBA 2011-34 May 18, 2011 PDF icon HoweSt1.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/06/2011 - 1:09pm
Summer St 1 ZBA2008-43 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Assembly Row Block 1 1 PB 2011-14 Oct 05, 2011 PDF icon ASQ Block 1 Combined Decision.pdf PDF icon Architectural Renderings, Plans, Elevations
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Neighborhood Context
PDF icon DRC 7-28-11
PDF icon DRC 9-8-11
PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 2:14pm
Howe 1 ZBA 2016-88 Sep 21, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 10:46am
Clarendon Hill 00 40B#2020-0001 Jun 10, 2020 PDF icon Decision
PDF icon Decision (with Clerk Stamp)
Package icon Complete Packet - September 16 PDF icon P&Z 40B Overview (20.06.03)
PDF icon Staff Report (09.16.20)
PDF icon Sept 30 Draft Conditions
10/20/2020 - 3:35pm
Crown St 0 ZBA 2012-94 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon CrownSt0.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Memo 1.3.13
03/29/2013 - 11:32am
Skilton 0 ZBA 2016-98 Oct 05, 2016 PDF icon Skilton 0-SPSR Application Set with 3D street views-160729.pdf 09/20/2018 - 7:10pm
Dane St. 0 ZBA 2016-76 Nov 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 1:28pm
Assembly Line Park 0 PB 2006-59-MA18 Sep 22, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon SPSR Requested Waivers PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 12:19pm
Fremont 0 CZC2020-000006 Mar 31, 2021 PDF icon Special Permit PDF icon Landscape
PDF icon Narrative
PDF icon Drawings
PDF icon Staff Memo 05/11/2021 - 3:39pm
Assembly Row Preliminary Master Plan Revision 3 0 PB 2006-59-R3(1/2016) Feb 18, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 1:41pm
Fremont St 0 ZBA 2017-130 Dec 22, 2017 PDF icon Initial Plan Set Dec 4 2017 12/22/2017 - 4:51pm
North Point 0 PB 2014-29 Oct 16, 2014 PDF icon Northpoint.pdf PDF icon Neighborhood Development Plan PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
Elmwood 0 ZBA 2016-11 Jun 22, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 3:37pm
Dane Street 0 ZBA 2016-76 Jul 14, 2016 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:25am

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