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
Sacramento Street 81 ZBA 2017-25-R1-9/2017 Oct 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-12-17
PDF icon Plan Set 11-15-17
PDF icon Staff Report 10-18-17
PDF icon Staff Report 11-29-17
08/07/2018 - 1:16pm
Cedar St 81 ZBA 2012-35 May 16, 2012 PDF icon CedarSt81.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 05/25/2012 - 8:49am
Sacramento Street 81 ZBA 2017-25 May 03, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans and Pictures PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 11:43am
School St 81 ZBA2008-11 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Highland Ave 81 ZBA 2017-101 Oct 18, 2017 PDF icon Variance Decision
PDF icon Special Permit Decision
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Executive Summary - Parking Study
PDF icon Parking Study
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Parking Variance Memo
08/07/2018 - 1:17pm
Alpine 81-83 ZBA 2018-141 Nov 07, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon ADA
PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Updated plans for March 20, 2019
PDF icon Updated Plans for June 5, 2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report 07/02/2019 - 11:15am
Highland Ave 82 ZBA 2014-16 Jun 04, 2014 PDF icon HighlandAve82.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Parking Study
PDF icon Updated Drainage Report
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report 06.12.2014
06/27/2014 - 11:17am
Pearson Ave 82 ZBA 2012-46 Jul 11, 2012 PDF icon PearsonAve82.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2012 - 11:58am
Highland Ave 82 ZBA 2014-16-R1(6/2015) Jul 15, 2015 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/07/2015 - 12:24am
Willow Avenue 82 ZBA 2017-30 Oct 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 8-16-17
PDF icon Survey Plan
PDF icon Landscape Plan 10-12-17
PDF icon Plan Set 11-2-17
PDF icon First Floor Plan 11-16-17
PDF icon Staff Report 10-18-17
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 11-8-17
PDF icon Updated Staff Report 11-29-17
08/07/2018 - 1:15pm
Jaques St 83 ZBA 2014-30 May 07, 2014 PDF icon JaquesSt83.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/27/2014 - 11:29am
Broadway 83-91 PB 2014-15 Jun 19, 2014 PDF icon Broadway83-91.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/28/2014 - 9:53am
Franklin St 84 ZBA 2017-50 Jan 31, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Franklin St 84 - Plans for January 31 2018
PDF icon Franklin 84 - Existing Plot Plan.pdf
PDF icon Franklin St 84 - Updated Combined Plan Set for 3-7-2018
PDF icon Franklin St 84 - Updated Plans for April 4 2018
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report - Updated for 3-7-2018
PDF icon Staff report for April 4 2018
08/03/2018 - 11:30am
Thurston St 84 ZBA 2016-153 Feb 01, 2017 PDF icon Plans 09/20/2018 - 7:32pm
Franklin St 84 ZBA 2017-50-R1-08-18 Apr 03, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Memo PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report for May 1 2019
05/22/2019 - 10:49am

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