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
Weston Ave 15 ZBA 2014-24 May 07, 2014 PDF icon WestonAve15.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Photo Sims
PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2014 - 3:59pm
Weston Ave 15 ZBA1998-37-R0208 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Weston Ave 15 ZBA2008-35 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Weston Ave 15 ZBA 2011-85 Apr 04, 2012 PDF icon WestonAve15.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Photo Simulations
PDF icon Staff Report 04/24/2012 - 4:34pm
Weston Ave 15 ZBA 2014-43 Jun 18, 2014 PDF icon WestonAve15 #2014-43).pdf PDF icon Photo Sims
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Updated Plans
PDF icon Updated Photo Sims
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2014 - 3:58pm
Westminster St 7 ZBA 2016-65 Oct 05, 2016 09/21/2018 - 10:21am
Westminster St 7 ZBA 2012-65 Sep 05, 2012 PDF icon WestminsterSt7.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/05/2012 - 10:43am
Wesley Pk 22 ZBA 2016 - 155 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/21/2018 - 10:20am
Wesley Pk 24 ZBA 2014-66 PDF icon WesleyPark24.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report 08.06.2014
08/19/2014 - 4:04pm
Wesley Pk 15 ZBA 2015-15 Jun 24, 2015 PDF icon WesleyPark15.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/09/2015 - 6:55pm
Wesley Park 22 ZBA 2016-155 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:18am
Wesley Park 19 ZBA 2018-58 Jun 06, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-22-18
PDF icon Plan Set 7-8-18
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
08/13/2018 - 9:50am
Webster St 17 ZBA 2013-76 Nov 20, 2013 PDF icon WebsterSt17.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/27/2013 - 9:48am
Webster Ave / Columbia St (Royal Hospitality) 56 520 ZBA2008-65 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Webster Ave 47 PB 2012-19 Nov 08, 2012 PDF icon WebsterAve47.pdf PDF icon Plans 10-22-12
PDF icon Phase I ESA Review
PDF icon Plans 10-26-12
PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:08am


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