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 391-395 ZBA 2019-37 May 15, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated plans for June 19, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report 07/02/2019 - 11:06am
Somerville Avenue 391-395 ZBA 2019-37-E1 Apr 22, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 05/13/2020 - 3:57pm
Vernon St 60 ZBA 2019-38 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for June 19, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report 07/08/2019 - 9:08am
Summer St 137 ZBA 2019-40 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set for August 7 2019
PDF icon Updated Plan Set for August 21, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
10/16/2019 - 2:29pm
Rossmore Street 11 ZBA 2019-41 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 4-17-19
PDF icon Plan Set 6-27-19
PDF icon Landscape Plan 8-7-19
PDF icon Plan Set 8-7-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
08/22/2019 - 4:47pm
Ward Street 29 ZBA 2019-42 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Architectural Plan 2-20-19
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 2-22-19
PDF icon Site Plan 6-25-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
08/12/2019 - 4:15pm
South Street 101 ZBA 2019-43 May 15, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Initial Plan Set
PDF icon Extension of Variance Decision
PDF icon Revision of SPSR Decision
PDF icon Staff Report 05/23/2019 - 12:07pm
Bromfield Rd 106 ZBA 2019-44 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission 07/02/2019 - 11:09am
Munroe 85 ZBA 2019-45 Nov 06, 2019 PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated Plans
PDF icon Munroe St 85 - Updated plans for Dec 11 2019 [POST].pdf
PDF icon Munroe St 85- Staff Report.pdf 12/09/2019 - 10:31am
Pearl Street 126 ZBA 2019-46 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 6-5-19 PDF icon Staff Report 07/24/2019 - 9:16am
Bow 23A ZBA 2019-47 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/18/2019 - 5:15pm
Prescott Street 44-46 ZBA 2019-48 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set - Initial Submission 06/24/2019 - 11:49am
Berkeley St 48 ZBA 2019-49 Aug 07, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report 08/22/2019 - 9:33pm
Wallace Street 76 ZBA 2019-51 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-23-19
PDF icon Plan Set 6-13-19
PDF icon Staff Report 07/02/2019 - 11:16am
Bow St 71 ZBA 2019-52 Aug 07, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2019 - 4:53pm

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