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
Summer St 346 ZBA 2014-59 Aug 06, 2014 PDF icon SummerSt346.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/19/2014 - 4:02pm
Summer St 139 ZBA 2014-90 Jan 21, 2015 PDF icon SummerSt139 (WWOP).pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon staff report 03/18/2015 - 1:21pm
Summer St 206 ZBA 2014-14 May 22, 2014 PDF icon SummerSt206.pdf PDF icon Plans 02.24.2014
PDF icon Plans 7.10.2014
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.05
PDF icon Staff Report 2014.07
08/19/2014 - 3:57pm
Summer St 343-349 ZBA2002-23-R0109 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Summer Street 301 ZBA 2016-144 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/03/2018 - 11:38am
Summer Street 7 ZBA 2018-107-R1-5/19 Jun 05, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-1-19 PDF icon Staff Report 07/02/2019 - 11:07am
Summer Street 343, 345, 349, and 351 ZBA 2017-81 Aug 16, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Original ZBA Decision 12-07-2011
PDF icon Approved Plans 12-07-2011
PDF icon Superior Court Decision 12-09-2015
PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 12:14pm
Summer Street 3-5 ZBA 2018-107 Oct 03, 2018 PDF icon 3 - 5 Summer Street.pdf PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 7-2-18
PDF icon Plan Set 9-27-18
PDF icon Staff Report 10/10/2018 - 1:13pm
Summer Street 301 ZBA #2016-144 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon SummerSt301.pdf 09/20/2018 - 7:24pm
Summer Street 343, 345, 349, & 351 ZBA 2011-54 Sep 20, 2018 PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 7:27pm
Summer Street 36-38 ZBA 2019-56 Jul 17, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-30-19
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 5-12-19
PDF icon Staff Report 07/24/2019 - 9:17am
Sycamore 8 ZBA 2019-61 Nov 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 11-20
PDF icon Plan Set 12-11
PDF icon Staff Report 01/08/2020 - 4:21pm
Sycamore St 67 ZBA 2011-51 Jul 13, 2011 PDF icon SycamoreSt67.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/19/2011 - 8:34am
Sycamore St 112-116 ZBA 2012-90 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon SycamoreSt112-116.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Memo 1.3.13
03/29/2013 - 11:44am
Sydney Street 51 ZBA 2015-20 Apr 03, 2015 PDF icon SydneySt51 (Denial).pdf 06/11/2015 - 11:06am


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