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
Prospect St 109-111 ZBA 2018-139 Dec 12, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set Memo
PDF icon Plan Set 10-4-2018
PDF icon Plan Set for 2-6-2019 ZBA
PDF icon Plan Set for 2-20-2019 ZBA
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Staff Report 03/12/2019 - 1:28pm
Porter Street 109 ZBA 2017-126 Jan 03, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-26-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:29pm
Hancock St 109 ZBA 2012-22 Apr 18, 2012 PDF icon HancockSt109.pdf PDF icon Plot & Site Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/11/2012 - 1:01pm
College Ave 109 ZBA 2014-77 Sep 03, 2014 PDF icon CollegeAve109.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Revised Site Plan
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report (Updated)
11/24/2014 - 3:30pm
Gilman St 108 ZBA 2018-120 Oct 17, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/30/2018 - 11:52am
School St 107 ZBA 2018-111 Sep 17, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/31/2018 - 3:42pm
Broadway 1060 PB 2016-79 Aug 18, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 11:09am
Broadway 1060 ZBA 2016-79-R1-7-19 Oct 03, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Google drive link to plans PDF icon Broadway 1060 (Powderhouse School - Staff Report.pdf 10/16/2019 - 2:27pm
Bromfield Rd 106 ZBA 2019-44 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission 07/02/2019 - 11:09am
Orchard St 106 ZBA 2012-23 Apr 18, 2012 PDF icon OrchardSt106.pdf PDF icon Plans 4.3.13
PDF icon Plans 3.20.12
PDF icon Staff Report 3.28.13
PDF icon Staff Report 4.12.12
04/09/2013 - 5:02pm
Washington St 105-107 ZBA 2017-91 Feb 14, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set for Feb 14, 2018 PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:34am
Broadway 105 PB2018-11 Jun 21, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon plan set PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:31pm
Cross St 105 ZBA 2016-114 Nov 16, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Cross St 105 - Final Plan Set.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 1:09pm
Beacon St 104 ZBA 2016-78-R1-6-2018 Jul 18, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans for Remand to ZBA July 18 2018
PDF icon Updated plans for Remand to ZBA 2018
PDF icon Remand
PDF icon Staff Report 09/07/2018 - 10:34am
Holland St 104 ZBA 2013-71-R1-7/2014 Aug 20, 2014 PDF icon HollandSt104.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 08/28/2014 - 9:33am


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