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.

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.

Drew Kane, Alternate

Drew is currently the Senior Land Use Planner with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department. Prior to the City of Cambridge, he spent 15 years as a consultant in architecture and planning firms in Atlanta, New York and Boston. Most recently, he was a Senior Urban Planner and Associate at Utile, Inc., a multi-disciplinary architecture and planning firm in Boston.. 

With a professional focus on the regeneration of urban environments, Drew's areas of expertise includes streetscape and public realm design, master planning and regulatory development with particular interest in waterfronts and industrial districts. 

Drew received a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s of Art in Art History from the University of Georgia.

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 Number Case Numbersort descending First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Union Square 71 DRA2020-0038 Jun 10, 2020 PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Context Elevations
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Variance Narrative
PDF icon Staff Memo 06/05/2020 - 10:25am
Highland Ave 378 DRA2020-0039 May 07, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Trip Generation Memo
PDF icon Neighborhood Meeting #1
PDF icon Staff Memo
07/01/2020 - 10:49am
Medford St 345 DRA2020-0052 May 20, 2020 PDF icon Drawings
PDF icon Variance Application 1
PDF icon Variance Application 2
PDF icon Variance Application 3
PDF icon Variance Application Addendum (20.06.15)
PDF icon Staff Memo 06/16/2020 - 2:29pm
Somerville Ave 365-369 DRA2020-0125 Jun 25, 2020 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Memo 06/19/2020 - 8:44am
n/a n/a Housing Policy Changes Dec 07, 2016 PDF icon ZBA Decision
PDF icon PB Decision
08/06/2018 - 11:37am
Summer St 242 N/A 05/20/2010 - 7:28am
Somerville Avenue 337 PB #2016-09 Oct 05, 2016 PDF icon SomervilleAve337 (PB).pdf PDF icon 337-341 Somerville Save PB-2016-09_FINAL_TO_POST.pdf 09/20/2018 - 7:15pm
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
Assembly Row Preliminary Master Plan Revision 2 PMP PB 2006-59-R2(5/2014) Jun 19, 2014 PDF icon AssemblyRowPUDPMPwAttachments.pdf PDF icon Application
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Open Space Plan
PDF icon Rendered Site Plans
PDF icon Design Guidelines
PDF icon Transportation 1
PDF icon Transportation 2
PDF icon Utilities
PDF icon Utilities Appendices 1
PDF icon Utilities Appendices 2
PDF icon Staff Report 6.12.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 6.19.2014
09/10/2014 - 10:26am
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
Clyde St (Maxwell's Green) 56-61 PB 2008-07-DC1 (4/2013) Apr 18, 2013 PDF icon De minimis Change Approval & Plans 11/19/2013 - 10:17am
Clyde St 56-61 PB 2008-07-R3-5/2012 Jun 07, 2012 PDF icon ClydeSt56&61_R30512_.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Memo to Planning Board - Site Modifications
PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2012 - 12:01pm
Clyde St 56-61 PB 2008-07-R4 (1/2013) Jan 24, 2013 PDF icon ClydeSt56&61_R12-12_.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 03/29/2013 - 11:31am
ASQ IKEA Phase IAA (Middlesex Ave) 133 PB 2009-05-E1 (6/2011) Jul 14, 2011 PDF icon MiddlesexAve133w-letter.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 09/23/2011 - 2:12pm
Windsor St 561 PB 2010-07-R1 (3/2012) Apr 05, 2012 PDF icon WindsorSt561.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon DRC 2-23-12
PDF icon Staff Report 04/24/2012 - 4:35pm

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