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
McGrath Hwy & Mystic Ave 771 & 240 PB 2013-05 Apr 04, 2013 PDF icon McGrathHwy771 (Combined).pdf PDF icon Plans 2013.02
PDF icon Environmental Report
PDF icon Presentation 2014.08
PDF icon Elevations 2014.08.13
PDF icon Traffic Impact Analysis 9.25.2014
PDF icon Presentation 2014.09
PDF icon Site Plans 9.25.2014
PDF icon Stormwater Management Report
PDF icon Conceptual Floor Plans
PDF icon Building Shadow Analysis
PDF icon Staff Report Oct 15, 2014
PDF icon Staff Report Update Dec 9, 2014
PDF icon Appendix with Updated Conditions
PDF icon Commitment Letter
01/07/2015 - 12:20pm
McGrath Hwy & Mystic Ave 771/779 & 240 PB 2014-31 Jan 08, 2015 PDF icon McGrathHwy771 (Combined Decision).pdf PDF icon Site Plans
PDF icon Architectural Plans
PDF icon Stormwater Management Report
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Accessiblity Narrative
PDF icon Existing Photos
PDF icon Renderings
PDF icon Expanded Traffic Study
PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:55am
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
McGrath Hwy & Cross St East 779 & 240 PB 2013-18 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon McGrathHwy779.pdf PDF icon Plans/Narrative PDF icon Staff Report 01/06/2015 - 2:17pm
Bay State Ave 78 ZBA 2015-21 May 06, 2015 PDF icon BayStateAve78.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 05/12/2015 - 3:30pm
Bonair 78 ZBA #2016-115 Nov 02, 2016 PDF icon Decision 09/17/2018 - 5:25pm
Benton 79 ZBA 2016-54 Aug 03, 2016 PDF icon BentonRd79.pdf PDF icon Benton Rd 79 - Final Plans.pdf PDF icon Benton Rd 79 - Staff Report.pdf 09/17/2018 - 4:50pm
Bow St 79 ZBA2009-06 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Thurston St 79 ZBA 2015-42 Aug 05, 2015 PDF icon ThurstonSt79.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/20/2015 - 9:01am
Broadway 79-83 PB2010-05 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Partridge Ave 7a ZBA2008-12 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
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
Hamilton Road 8 ZBA 2017-09 Mar 15, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Updated Plan Set
PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Updated Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report
08/06/2018 - 11:37am
Fennell St 8 ZBA 2013-44 Jul 10, 2013 PDF icon FennellSt8.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/18/2013 - 1:29pm
Mt. Vernon St 8 ZBA 2012-30 May 16, 2012 PDF icon MtVernonSt8.pdf PDF icon Plot & Site Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/11/2012 - 1:03pm

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