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 Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated datesort descending
Dimick Street 68 ZBA 2018-151 Nov 28, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-24-18
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 10-25-18
PDF icon Plan Set 1-16-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
02/12/2019 - 9:09am
Elmwood Street 17 ZBA 2018-125 Dec 12, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 8-23-18
PDF icon Survey 5-8-18
PDF icon Staff Report 02/12/2019 - 9:09am
Highland Ave 378-382 ZBA 2018-121 Jan 09, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans 02/27/2019 - 9:21am
Winslow Avenue 37 ZBA 2018-188 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission PDF icon Staff Report 02/27/2019 - 10:25am
Fiske Ave 11 ZBA 2018-109 Oct 03, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Updated plans for Feb 20 2019
PDF icon Staff Memorandum 03/05/2019 - 7:29pm
Electric Avenue 47 ZBA 2018-160 Jan 09, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-31-18
PDF icon Plan Set 12-13-18
PDF icon Plan Set 1-24-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report
03/06/2019 - 11:12am
Elm Street 36 ZBA 2018-127 Jan 09, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 9-4-18
PDF icon Plan Set 11-25-18
PDF icon Plan Set 1-28-19
PDF icon Plan Set 2-14-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
03/06/2019 - 11:16am
Oliver Street 50 ZBA 2018-186 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 12-18-18
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 12-18-18
PDF icon Site Diagram 9-25-18
PDF icon Staff Report 03/06/2019 - 11:23am
Bonner Avenue 14 ZBA 2018-172 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 1-15-19 PDF icon Staff Report 03/06/2019 - 11:28am
Houghton Street 21 ZBA 2018-187 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 12-20-18 PDF icon Staff Report 03/06/2019 - 11:40am
Willow Avenue 233 ZBA 2018-183 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 1-08-19
PDF icon Plan Set 1-17-19
PDF icon Staff Report 03/06/2019 - 12:02pm
Myrtle St 61 ZBA 2018-140 Nov 28, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated Plan Set
PDF icon Plan Set for Feb 6 2019
03/11/2019 - 2:26pm
Flint St 62 ZBA 2018-163 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 03/11/2019 - 2:27pm
Mystic Valley Parkway 527 ZBA 2018-163 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report 03/11/2019 - 2:28pm
Albion St 65 ZBA 2018-179 Feb 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Staff Report 03/11/2019 - 2:29pm

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