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
Cedar Street 29 ZBA 2019-90 Sep 04, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 7-28-19 PDF icon Staff Report 09/10/2019 - 10:09am
Laurel St 21 ZBA 2019-91 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Laurel St 21 - Plans (POST).pdf
PDF icon Laurel St 21 - Staff Report.pdf 01/08/2020 - 4:26pm
Rush Street 23 ZBA 2019-92 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Proposed Elevation 9-3-19
PDF icon Plan Set 9-12-19
PDF icon Plan Set 11-13-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
11/15/2019 - 9:39am
Inner Belt Road 50 ZBA 2019-93 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Fence Detail 4-17-15
PDF icon Plan 6-26-19
PDF icon Staff Report 09/25/2019 - 2:20pm
Lexington Ave 5 ZBA 2019-94 Sep 04, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report 10/16/2019 - 4:04pm
Trull Street 57 ZBA 2019-95 Oct 02, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 8-28-19 PDF icon Staff Report 10/24/2019 - 11:59am
Linden Avenue 59 ZBA 2019-96 Oct 16, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 9-21-19
PDF icon Plan Set 10-28-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
11/08/2019 - 12:01pm
Carlton Street 15 ZBA 2019-98 Nov 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-22-19
PDF icon Plan Set 11-18-19
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon 2nd Staff Report
01/08/2020 - 4:27pm
Elm Street 219-221 ZBA 2019-99 Oct 02, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Existing Floor Plan
PDF icon Proposed Floor Plan 8-15-19
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 8-27-19
PDF icon Staff Report 10/16/2019 - 2:28pm
Cherry St 21 ZBA#2016-25-R1-11/20 Nov 18, 2020 PDF icon May 2017 Decision
PDF icon Cherry St 21 - Final Combined Plan Sets for May 17 2017 ZBA hearing
PDF icon As-Built Survey
PDF icon Amended Plans
PDF icon As-Built Elevations
PDF icon Staff Memo 11/16/2020 - 3:00pm
Weston Ave 15 ZBA1998-37-R0208 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Highland Ave 114 ZBA1998-38-R0408 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
College Ave 119 ZBA2000-02-R0108 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
College Ave 119 ZBA2000-02-R0808 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Beacon St 94 ZBA2000-09-R01-08 05/20/2010 - 7:10am


Subscribe to Reports and Decisions