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
Concord Ave 69 ZBA 2017-108 Dec 13, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Concord Ave 69 - Updated plans rec'd 12-7-2017.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:58am
Morrison Ave 69 ZBA 2016-07 Feb 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 2:49pm
Walnut St 69 ZBA2008-37 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Concord Avenue 69 ZBA 2016-27 Apr 06, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/19/2018 - 11:25am
Rush St 69 ZBA 2018-50 May 16, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set May 16 2018 PDF icon Staff Report May 16 2018 08/03/2018 - 11:23am
Lexington Avenue 69-71 ZBA 2014-57 Jul 03, 2014 PDF icon LexingtonAve69-71.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Plans
08/28/2014 - 9:46am
Somerville Ave 691A ZBA2009-09 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Assembly Row 699 PB 2014-35 Jan 08, 2015 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:56am
Sewall St 7 ZBA 2015-40 Aug 05, 2015 PDF icon SewallSt7.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/20/2015 - 9:00am
Greene St 7 ZBA 2013-70 Nov 06, 2013 PDF icon GreeneSt7.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:12am
Thurston 7 ZBA 2015-55 Sep 02, 2015 PDF icon Thurston St, 7 Staff Report.doc.pdf 08/26/2015 - 4:33pm
Montgomery Avenue 7 ZBA 2015-98 Apr 19, 2017 PDF icon MontgomeryAve7.pdf PDF icon Plan set
PDF icon Landscape plan
PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 11:38am
Russell Road 7 ZBA 2018-59 Jun 06, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 3-30-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:17am
Montgomery Avenue 7 ZBA2015-98-R1-1018 Dec 12, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon cover letter
PDF icon site plan (BP)
PDF icon constructed photos
PDF icon violation
PDF icon MontgomeryAve7_Revision-StaffReport-121218.pdf 12/26/2018 - 11:12am
Thurston 7 ZBA 2015-55 Aug 27, 2015 PDF icon Staff Report 08/26/2015 - 4:35pm


Subscribe to Reports and Decisions