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 ascending Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Dell Street 13 ZBA 2016-141 Jan 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/03/2018 - 11:37am
Rush St 13 ZBA2008-58 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Alpine 13 ZBA 2016-75 Jul 12, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Updated plans PDF icon Updated staff report 08/06/2018 - 12:12pm
Dell St 13 ZBA 2016-141 Jan 18, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 1:37pm
Robinson St 13 ZBA 2011-57 Oct 19, 2011 PDF icon RobinsonSt13.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 12/16/2011 - 11:33am
Clyde St 13 ZBA 2012-49 Jul 11, 2012 PDF icon ClydeSt13_WWOP_.pdf PDF icon Plans 6-26-12 10/26/2012 - 9:10am
Roberts St 13 ZBA 2015-04 Jun 24, 2015 PDF icon RobertsSt13.pdf PDF icon Plans 11.25.2014
PDF icon Plans 08.27.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 07.18.2015
PDF icon Staff Report 09.10.2015
09/30/2015 - 1:58pm
Pinckney 13 ZBA 2017-63 Sep 06, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon application
PDF icon sketch layout
PDF icon certificate of occupancy
PDF icon Staff Report 10-4-17 08/07/2018 - 12:13pm
Elmwood St 13 ZBA 2012-73 Sep 19, 2012 PDF icon ElmwoodSt13.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09.13.12
PDF icon Staff Report 09.27.12
10/26/2012 - 9:11am
Highland Ave 129-129R ZBA 2012-45 Jul 11, 2012 PDF icon HighlandAve129-129R.pdf PDF icon Plans 6-26-12
PDF icon Plans 7-25-12
PDF icon Plans 8-28-12
PDF icon Plans 9-27-12
PDF icon Staff Report 10/26/2012 - 9:07am
Pearl Street 126 ZBA 2019-46 Jun 19, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 6-5-19 PDF icon Staff Report 07/24/2019 - 9:16am
Orchard St 126 ZBA2009-12 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Broadway 1252 ZBA 2018-38 Jul 12, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set
PDF icon Plan Set - Updated July 2018
PDF icon Plan Set - Updated October 2018
PDF icon Plan Set - Updated for Nov 28 2018
PDF icon Plans for 2-20-2019 ZBA
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Updated Staff Report for 2-20-2019
03/12/2019 - 1:44pm
Broadway 125 PB 2013-19 Nov 07, 2013 PDF icon Broadway125.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 11/19/2013 - 10:14am
Lowell Street 125 ZBA 2018-89 Aug 22, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon initial drawing set
PDF icon revised drawing set
PDF icon transportation fact sheet
PDF icon stormwater report
PDF icon staff report
PDF icon revised staff report
PDF icon Planning Board presentation
10/16/2018 - 3:49pm


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