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 Numbersort descending Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Morrison Avenue 102 ZBA 2016-112 Nov 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 2:51pm
Heath Street 102 ZBA 2018-06 Mar 07, 2018 PDF icon Decision (WWOP) PDF icon Plan Set 12-2-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:34am
Broadway 102-104 PB 2019-12 Apr 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 3-6-19 PDF icon Staff Report 05/22/2019 - 10:46am
Broadway 102-104 PB 2014-27 Aug 11, 2014 PDF icon Broadway102-104.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/24/2014 - 3:42pm
Pearson Avenue 103 ZBA 2017-104 Oct 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 9-11-17
PDF icon Plan Set 10-11-17
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
08/07/2018 - 12:52pm
Kidder Ave 103 ZBA 2015-92 Nov 18, 2015 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/13/2015 - 12:21pm
Belmont St 103 ZBA2009-05 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Thurston St 103 ZBA2007-64 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Electric Ave 103 ZBA 2016-77 Sep 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 3:20pm
Washington Street 103 ZBA 2017-53 Jul 12, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon plan set 08/06/2018 - 11:50am
Washington 103 ZBA 2017-53-E1-08-19 Nov 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Applicant Statement for Extension PDF icon Staff Report 01/08/2020 - 4:20pm
Holland St 104 ZBA 2013-71-R1-7/2014 Aug 20, 2014 PDF icon HollandSt104.pdf PDF icon Staff Report 08/28/2014 - 9:33am
Holland St 104 ZBA 2013-71 Nov 06, 2013 PDF icon HollandSt104.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Additional Deck Schemes
PDF icon Plans 12.04.2013
PDF icon Staff Report 10.31.2013
PDF icon Staff Report 12.05.2013
01/22/2014 - 5:58pm
Beacon 104 ZBA 2016-78 Dec 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 3:59pm
Beacon Street 104 ZBA 2016-78 Aug 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:21am

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