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.

Streetsort ascending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Boston St 19 ZBA 2015-30 Jun 24, 2015 PDF icon BostonSt19.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 07/28/2015 - 10:25am
Boston St 76 ZBA 2012-36 Jun 06, 2012 PDF icon BostonSt76.pdf PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Structural Analysis/Construction Letter
PDF icon Photo 1
PDF icon Photo 3
PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2012 - 12:02pm
Boston Avenue 46-48 ZBA 2017-49 Jul 12, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon plan set 08/06/2018 - 11:56am
Boston Ave 166 ZBA 2014-71 Jul 17, 2014 PDF icon BostonAve166.pdf 08/28/2014 - 9:51am
Boston Ave 23-25 ZBA 2017-100 Dec 13, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Boston Ave 23-25 - Plan Set.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:59am
Boston Ave 158 ZBA 2013-33 May 15, 2013 PDF icon BostonAve158.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Staff Report 06/10/2013 - 10:32am
Bonner Avenue 14 ZBA 2018-172 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 1-15-19 PDF icon Staff Report 03/06/2019 - 11:28am
Bonair Street 56 ZBA 2018-41 May 16, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 4-21-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:16am
Bonair St 59-61 ZBA2010-10 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Bonair 78 ZBA #2016-115 Nov 02, 2016 PDF icon Decision 09/17/2018 - 5:25pm
Bleachery Ct / Garden Ct 14-15 / 10 ZBA 2011-37 May 18, 2011 PDF icon BleacheryCt14-15.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/06/2011 - 1:10pm
Billingham Street 22 ZBA 2017-79 Sep 06, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 8-17-17 PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
08/07/2018 - 12:53pm
Billingham St 28 ZBA2009-10 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Berkeley Street 59 ZBA 2016-83-R1-0317 Apr 19, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 12:07pm
Berkeley St 12 ZBA 2015-86 Nov 04, 2015 PDF icon BerkeleySt12 (#ZBA 2015-86).pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/16/2015 - 2:53pm


Subscribe to Reports and Decisions