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.

Streetsort descending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Somerville Ave 510 ZBA 2014-14 Aug 06, 2014 PDF icon SomervilleAve510.pdf PDF icon Plans 7-29-2014
PDF icon Updated plans 6-18-2014
PDF icon Parking Study
PDF icon Traffic Impact Study
PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2014 - 3:59pm
Somerville Ave 282 PB2009-12 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Somerville Ave 626B ZBA 2015-68 Sep 16, 2015 PDF icon SomervilleAve626B.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/30/2015 - 1:58pm
Somerville Ave 691A ZBA2009-09 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Somerville Ave 515 PB 2014-18 Oct 01, 2014 PDF icon Rendering
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Drainage Report
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon 3D Views
02/19/2015 - 9:58am
Somerville Ave 765 ZBA 2012-93 Nov 28, 2012 PDF icon SomervilleAve765.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Memo 1.3.13
03/29/2013 - 11:42am
Somerville Ave 779 ZBA 2013-26 May 01, 2013 PDF icon SomervilleAve779.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/20/2013 - 1:51pm
Somerville Ave 749 ZBA 2014-41 Jun 04, 2014 PDF icon SomervilleAve749.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/27/2014 - 11:23am
Somerville Ave 444 PB 2015-53 Aug 20, 2015 PDF icon 444 Somerville Ave.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/21/2015 - 10:48am
Somerville Ave 374 PB 2017-16 and ZBA 2018-11 Oct 19, 2017 PDF icon ZBA Decision
PDF icon PB Decision
PDF icon PB Decision MEMO
PDF icon Code Report
PDF icon Plan Set 6-23-17
PDF icon Perspective Views
PDF icon Aerial Rendering
PDF icon Carlton Street Elevation
PDF icon Plan Set 3-8-18
PDF icon Plan Set 3-27-18
PDF icon Plan Set 5-24-18
PDF icon Zoning Data
PDF icon Variance Staff Report
PDF icon SPSR Staff Report
PDF icon Updated SPSR Staff Report
08/07/2018 - 1:45pm
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 Ave 230 PB 2012-01 Feb 02, 2012 PDF icon SomervilleAve230.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 1-26-12
PDF icon Staff Report 3-8-12
08/02/2012 - 12:17pm
Somerville Ave 365-369 DRA2020-0125 Jun 25, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Memo 08/28/2020 - 10:00am
Somerville Ave 515 AA2020-0001 Feb 26, 2020 PDF icon Staff Report 02/20/2020 - 3:16pm
Somerville Ave 379 PB 2011-19 Nov 17, 2011 PDF icon SomervilleAve379.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 12/16/2011 - 11:29am


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