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.

Danielle Fillis Evans, Clerk

Danielle Fillis Evans holds a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has served on the ZBA since 2008. She has worked as a planner in several municipalities in Massachusetts and currently manages the Community Preservation Act program for the City of Medford.

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.

Josh Safdie

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.

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
Gilman Terrace 12 ZBA 2014-44 Jun 18, 2014 PDF icon GilmanTerr12.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/27/2014 - 11:20am
Avon St 12 ZBA 2018-96 Aug 22, 2018 PDF icon Decision (WWOP) PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Plans - Updated for Aug 22, 2018
PDF icon Staff Report 09/04/2018 - 3:19pm
Linden Place 12 ZBA 2017-129 Jan 31, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon drawing set PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:55am
Aldersey St 12 ZBA 2019-80 Aug 30, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated plans for September 18 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
10/01/2019 - 2:55pm
College Hill Road 12 ZBA 2017-22 Apr 19, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 12:08pm
Prospect Hill Ave 12 ZBA2009-62 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
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
Columbus Avenue 12 ZBA 2016-03 Apr 06, 2016 PDF icon Decision 09/18/2018 - 12:52pm
Dickinson 12 ZBA 2012-32 May 16, 2012 PDF icon DickinsonSt12.pdf PDF icon Plot & Site Plans PDF icon Staff Report 05/25/2012 - 8:51am
Flint Avenue 12 ZBA 2019-60 Oct 16, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 9-12-19
PDF icon Flint Ave 12 - Updated Plans Rec'd 12-2-2019.pdf
PDF icon Flint Ave 12 - Staff Report.pdf 01/08/2020 - 4:24pm
Berkeley St 12 ZBA 2015-07 Mar 18, 2015 PDF icon BerkeleySt12.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 03/26/2015 - 3:10pm
Glen Street 12 ZBA 2018-68 Jun 20, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon application plan set
PDF icon Revised plan set
PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:29pm
Beacon Place 12 ZBA 2015-81 Feb 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 4:11pm
Dane St 11R ZBA 2019-77 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Staff Report 10/16/2019 - 2:26pm
Central St 119 ZBA 2012-48 Jul 11, 2012 PDF icon CentralSt119.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/29/2012 - 12:46pm


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