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.

Streetsort ascending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Wallace St 34-34 ZBA 2012-87 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon WallaceSt32-34.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:04am
Wallace St 99 ZBA 2014-68 Aug 20, 2014 PDF icon WallaceSt99.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/28/2014 - 9:27am
Wallace St 30 ZBA 2012-56 Aug 01, 2012 PDF icon WallaceSt30.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:04am
Vinal Ave 3-5 ZBA2009-56 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Vinal Ave 17 ZBA 2012-43 May 18, 2012 PDF icon VinalAve17.pdf PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Plans
08/02/2012 - 12:14pm
Village Terrace 2 ZBA 2018-132 Nov 07, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans (10.23.18) PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2018 - 12:07pm
Village Ter 1 & 2 ZBA 2011-77 Apr 18, 2012 PDF icon VillageTerrace1&2.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon DRC 1-12-12
PDF icon DRC 2-23-12
PDF icon Plans- Revised 7.25.12
PDF icon Plans- Revised 11.20.12
PDF icon Plans- Revised Posted 11.28.12
PDF icon Staff Report 3.2012
PDF icon Staff Report 11.2012
PDF icon Staff Report 11.28.2012
01/03/2013 - 10:05am
Village St 19-21 ZBA 2013-53 Aug 07, 2013 PDF icon VillageSt19-21.pdf PDF icon Plans 9.12.13
PDF icon Plans 7.19.13
PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2013 - 9:49am
Village St 19-21 ZBA 2013-53-R1(11/2015) Dec 09, 2015 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 12/04/2015 - 12:22pm
Village St 23-25-27 ZBA 2012-80 Oct 17, 2012 PDF icon VillageSt23-25-27.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Recommendations and ASTM Conclusions
PDF icon Environmental Report
PDF icon Letter to MA DEP #1
PDF icon Letter to MA DEP #2
PDF icon Staff Report 10/26/2012 - 9:08am
Victoria Street 43 ZBA 2019-20 Apr 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans Microsoft Office document icon Staff Report 04/25/2019 - 3:15pm
Victoria 44 ZBA 2016-32 May 04, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/21/2018 - 10:07am
Vernon St 60 ZBA 2019-38 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for June 19, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report 07/08/2019 - 9:08am
Upland Road 56-58 ZBA 2019-32 May 01, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 12-19-18
PDF icon Plan Set 4-10-19
PDF icon Sketch 4-26-19
PDF icon Plan Set 4-29-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
05/23/2019 - 12:07pm
Upland Rd 26-28 ZBA 2018-43 Jun 06, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans for June 6 2018 ZBA
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Staff Report for 6-6-2018 08/03/2018 - 11:15am


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