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
Somerville Ave 290 PB 2013-07 May 02, 2013 PDF icon SomervilleAve290.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Concept Board
PDF icon Staff Report 05/09/2013 - 1:36pm
Washington St 181 & 197 PB 2013-08 Jun 20, 2013 PDF icon WashingtonSt181&197 PB2013-08.pdf PDF icon Existing Site Conditions Plan
PDF icon Plot, Site, & Landscape Plans
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Elevations
PDF icon Shadow Studies
PDF icon Perspectives & Views 7.3.13
PDF icon Roof Plans 7.3.13
PDF icon Site Phasing
PDF icon Drainage Report
PDF icon Traffic & Parking Assessment 4.2013
PDF icon Staff Report 6.13.13
PDF icon Staff Report 7.3.13
PDF icon Traffic Supplemental Memo 7.17.13
PDF icon Plans 7.18.13
07/23/2013 - 5:45pm
Mystic Ave 65-75 PB 2013-09 May 16, 2013 PDF icon MysticAve65-75.pdf PDF icon Plan PDF icon Staff Report 05/21/2013 - 1:55pm
Washington St 181 & 197 PB 2013-11 Jun 20, 2013 PDF icon WashingtonSt181&197 _#2013-11__WWOP_.pdf PDF icon Site Plan PDF icon Staff Report 08/01/2013 - 9:13am
Bow St 16-18 PB 2013-14 Aug 08, 2013 PDF icon BowSt16-18.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/15/2013 - 4:18pm
Broadway 2-8 PB 2013-15 Aug 08, 2013 PDF icon Broadway2-8.pdf PDF icon Plans 9-12-13
PDF icon Plans 8-1-13
PDF icon Plans 7-9-13
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Traffic & Parking Assessment
PDF icon Plans 9-26-13
PDF icon Staff Report 9-12-13
PDF icon Staff Report 8-1-13
PDF icon Staff Report 9-26-13
10/21/2013 - 11:34am
Broadway 182 PB 2013-16 Sep 05, 2013 PDF icon Broadway182.pdf PDF icon Plans 8.13.13
PDF icon Plans 10.21.13
PDF icon Plans 11.18.13
PDF icon Stormwater Management Report
PDF icon Plans 1.29.13
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Plans 2.27.14
PDF icon Plans 3.5.14
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Memo 2.27.14
PDF icon Memo 3.5.14
03/12/2014 - 2:37pm
Broadway 182 PB 2013-16-E1(11/2015) Dec 10, 2015 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 12:11pm
Broadway 182 PB 2013-16-E1(11/2015) Dec 10, 2015 PDF icon Staff Report 12/07/2015 - 11:13am
Medford St 9 & 39 PB 2013-17 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon MedfordSt9&39.pdf PDF icon Plans 10.8.13
PDF icon Traffic Analysis
PDF icon Drainage Report
PDF icon Plans 10.31.13
PDF icon Plans 11.19.13
PDF icon Staff Report 10.31.13
PDF icon Staff Report 11.14.13
PDF icon Memo 11.21.13
11/27/2013 - 9:49am
McGrath Hwy & Cross St East 779 & 240 PB 2013-18 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon McGrathHwy779.pdf PDF icon Plans/Narrative PDF icon Staff Report 01/06/2015 - 2:17pm
Broadway 125 PB 2013-19 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon Broadway125.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:14am
Union Sq 38 PB 2013-20 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon UnionSq38.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:15am
Assembly Row Block 3 3 PB 2013-22 Jan 16, 2014 PDF icon AssembllyRow598 (Combined).pdf PDF icon Plans 1.13.2014
PDF icon Plans 1.30.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 1.09.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 1.30.2014
06/25/2014 - 4:32pm
Somerville Ave 230 PB 2013-23 Feb 06, 2014 PDF icon SomervilleAve230.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 03/17/2014 - 11:00am


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