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 Numbersort descending Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Thurston 7 ZBA 2015-55 Sep 02, 2015 PDF icon Thurston St, 7 Staff Report.doc.pdf 08/26/2015 - 4:33pm
Montgomery Avenue 7 ZBA 2015-98 Apr 19, 2017 PDF icon MontgomeryAve7.pdf PDF icon Plan set
PDF icon Landscape plan
PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 11:38am
Greene St 7 ZBA 2013-70 Nov 06, 2013 PDF icon GreeneSt7.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:12am
Fairview Terr 7 & 11 ZBA 2014-112 Dec 10, 2014 PDF icon FairviewTerr7&11.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
Bowers Ave 7-9 ZBA2008-68 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Greenville Street 7-9 ZBA 2018-169 Mar 06, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 11-14-18
PDF icon Plan Set 2-6-19
PDF icon Plan Set 3-14-19
PDF icon Staff Report 03/26/2019 - 3:14pm
Irving Street 70 ZBA 2012-100 Dec 12, 2012 PDF icon IrvingSt70.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:08am
Glen St 70 ZBA2005-93-R0308 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Broadway 70 PB 2017-13 Jun 22, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-4-17
PDF icon Plan Set 6-12-17
PDF icon Plan Set 7-17-17
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 7-26-17
08/06/2018 - 12:13pm
Concord Ave 70 ZBA 2012-59 Sep 19, 2012 PDF icon ConcordAve70.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/05/2012 - 10:40am
Prospect St 70 PB 2012-21 Dec 13, 2012 PDF icon ProspectSt70.pdf PDF icon Plans 11-21-12
PDF icon Plans 3-14-2013
PDF icon Traffic Study
PDF icon Plans 4-18-2013
PDF icon Staff Report 03.14.13
PDF icon Staff Report 04.18.13
05/30/2013 - 7:34pm
Inner Belt Road 70 ZBA 2018-74 Jun 20, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 5-29-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:31pm
Broadway 70 PB 2017-13-R1-11/18 Dec 13, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-30-18
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 10-30-18
PDF icon Staff Report 12/26/2018 - 11:14am
Prospect St 70 ZBA 2013-34 Jun 05, 2013 PDF icon ProspectSt70 (V).pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/10/2013 - 10:33am
Craigie St 70 ZBA 2015-80 Jan 06, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 1:08pm


Subscribe to Reports and Decisions