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
NorthPoint NDP PB 2014-29-MA-0916 Nov 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 09/20/2018 - 6:22pm
Cambridge Crossing (formerly NorthPoint) Neighborhood Development Plan PB 2014-29-MA3-0818 Nov 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon application
PDF icon PB presentation
PDF icon staff report 11/26/2018 - 4:03pm
McGrath Hwy & Mystic Ave 771/779 & 240 PB 2014-31 Jan 08, 2015 PDF icon McGrathHwy771 (Combined Decision).pdf PDF icon Site Plans
PDF icon Architectural Plans
PDF icon Stormwater Management Report
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Accessiblity Narrative
PDF icon Existing Photos
PDF icon Renderings
PDF icon Expanded Traffic Study
PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:55am
Medford St 39R PB 2014-32 Apr 02, 2015 PDF icon MedfordSt39R.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 04/09/2015 - 2:08pm
Assembly Row Block 7 7 PB 2014-33 Nov 21, 2014 PDF icon ASQBlock7 #2014-33 (COMBINED).pdf PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:58am
Assembly Row Block 5 5 PB 2014-34 Feb 05, 2015 PDF icon AssemblyRowBlock5 (Combined).pdf PDF icon Summary
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative
PDF icon Transportation Narrative
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Open Space Plan
PDF icon Architectural Plans
PDF icon Utility Analysis
PDF icon Water System Analysis
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon LEED Checklist
PDF icon Staff Report 02/23/2015 - 9:20am
Assembly Row Block 5 5 PB 2014-34-R1(5/2015) Jun 25, 2015 PDF icon ASQBlock5 (Rev-Combined).pdf PDF icon Plans 06.2015
PDF icon Plans 07.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 06.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 07.2015
07/28/2015 - 10:31am
Assembly Row Block 5 5 PB 2014-34-R2(2/2016) May 24, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 1:38pm
Assembly Row 400-499 PB 2014-34-R3-0917 Oct 19, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Drawing set PDF icon Staff report 08/07/2018 - 12:52pm
Assembly Row 699 PB 2014-35 Jan 08, 2015 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:56am
Broadway 144 PB 2014-36 Oct 16, 2014 PDF icon Decision
PDF icon Memo
PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 05/15/2018 - 8:50am
Maxwell's Green 5 PB 2015-01 PDF icon MaxwellsGreen5.pdf 02/23/2015 - 9:23am
Broadway 331-333 PB 2015-02 Apr 16, 2015 PDF icon Broadway331-333.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Photo Sims
PDF icon Staff Report 06/11/2015 - 11:03am
South Street 138 PB 2015-03 Apr 02, 2015 PDF icon SouthSt138 (WWOP).pdf 05/13/2015 - 4:38pm
Broadway 328 PB 2015-04 Jun 25, 2015 PDF icon Broadway328.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Plans 7.9.2015
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report 7.9.2015
07/28/2015 - 10:30am

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