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 descending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Beacon Street 115 ZBA 2018-159 Jan 23, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission
PDF icon Updated plans for Feb 20 2019
PDF icon Staff Report 05/22/2019 - 10:47am
Beacon Street 312 R ZBA 2018-08 Feb 14, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 1-30-18 01/30/2019 - 2:33pm
Beacon Street 303 ZBA 2017-71 Nov 29, 2017 PDF icon Withdrawal PDF icon drawing set
PDF icon survey
PDF icon Plan Set for November 20 2019
PDF icon Staff report 11/20/2019 - 5:47pm
Beacon Street 285-291 ZBA 2018-63 Jun 20, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-2-18
PDF icon Plan Set 6-14-18
PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:32pm
Beacon Street 260 ZBA 2019-75 Aug 07, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Signage 5-22-19
PDF icon Floor Plans 6-14-19
PDF icon Staff Report 08/12/2019 - 4:13pm
Beacon Street 312 R ZBA 2019-31 May 15, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans Set 3-11-19
PDF icon Plan Set 4-30-19
PDF icon Staff Report 05/23/2019 - 12:06pm
Beacon Street 292 ZBA 2018-118-R1-2/19 Mar 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Front Elevation 3-6-19 04/12/2019 - 9:42am
Beacon Street 292-294 ZBA 2007-11-R3-3/2017 May 17, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Proposed Plan Set
PDF icon Proposed Plan Set 6-1-17
PDF icon Proposed Plan Set 6-15-17
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 6-1-17
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 6-15-17
08/06/2018 - 11:49am
Beacon Street 54 ZBA 2014-60 Jul 03, 2014 PDF icon BeaconSt54.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/03/2014 - 11:37am
Beacon Street 104 ZBA 2016-78 Aug 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:21am
Beacon Street 292-294 ZBA 2018-118 Nov 07, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-2-18 PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2018 - 12:08pm
Beacon Street 292 ZBA 2018-13 May 02, 2018 PDF icon Decision (WWOP) PDF icon Plan Set 4-5-18
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative.pdf
PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:25am
Bedford St 7 ZBA2007-49-R0908 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Beech 10, Unit 1 ZBA 2016-19 Mar 16, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 4:17pm
Beech St 10, Unit 3 ZBA 2016-74 Sep 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 4:20pm


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