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 Number Case Numbersort ascending First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Washington St 181 & 197 PB 2013-08 Jun 20, 2013 PDF icon WashingtonSt181&197 PB2013-08.pdf PDF icon Existing Site Conditions Plan
PDF icon Plot, Site, & Landscape Plans
PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Elevations
PDF icon Shadow Studies
PDF icon Perspectives & Views 7.3.13
PDF icon Roof Plans 7.3.13
PDF icon Site Phasing
PDF icon Drainage Report
PDF icon Traffic & Parking Assessment 4.2013
PDF icon Staff Report 6.13.13
PDF icon Staff Report 7.3.13
PDF icon Traffic Supplemental Memo 7.17.13
PDF icon Plans 7.18.13
07/23/2013 - 5:45pm
Somerville Ave 290 PB 2013-07 May 02, 2013 PDF icon SomervilleAve290.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Concept Board
PDF icon Staff Report 05/09/2013 - 1:36pm
Broadway 205 PB 2013-06 Apr 04, 2013 PDF icon Broadway205.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Traffic and Parking Study
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Staff Report 04/09/2013 - 5:03pm
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
Inner Belt Rd 150 & 200 PB 2013-04 Feb 21, 2013 PDF icon InnerBeltRd150-200.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 07/08/2013 - 10:20am
Washington St 84 & 90 PB 2013-03 Apr 04, 2013 PDF icon WashingtonSt84&90.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 04/11/2013 - 10:10pm
Assembly Row Block 2B 2B PB 2013-02 Feb 21, 2013 PDF icon ASQBlock2BandPUDAmendmentDecisionWithAppendix.pdf PDF icon Building Elevations
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Open Space
PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 4:28pm
Assembly Row Block 2A 2A PB 2013-01 Feb 21, 2013 PDF icon ASQBlock2ADecisionWithAppendix.pdf PDF icon Building Elevations
PDF icon Building Renderings
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Open Space
PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 4:27pm
Broadway / Temple 315 / 18 PB 2012-22 Feb 21, 2013 PDF icon Broadway315-TempleSt18.pdf PDF icon Plans 2012.12.17
PDF icon Plans 2013.03.04
PDF icon Environmental Cleanup Documentation - RAO Report
PDF icon Traffic Study
PDF icon Plans 2013.05.21
PDF icon Environmental Cleanup Report - UST Closure Assessment
PDF icon Plans 2013.06.12
PDF icon Stormwater Policy
PDF icon Staff Report 7.03.13
PDF icon Staff Report 03.28.13
PDF icon Staff Report 07.16.13
08/01/2013 - 9:12am
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
Washington St 255 PB 2012-20 Nov 29, 2012 PDF icon WashingtonSt255.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:09am
Webster Ave 47 PB 2012-19 Nov 08, 2012 PDF icon WebsterAve47.pdf PDF icon Plans 10-22-12
PDF icon Phase I ESA Review
PDF icon Plans 10-26-12
PDF icon Staff Report 01/03/2013 - 10:08am
Broadway 167 PB 2012-17 Sep 20, 2012 PDF icon Broadway167.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 10/05/2012 - 10:41am
Broadway 118-120 PB 2012-15 Aug 23, 2012 PDF icon Broadway118-120.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 08/29/2012 - 12:44pm
Assembly Row Block 6 6 PB 2012-14 Aug 02, 2012 PDF icon ASQBlocks6(Combined).pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 4:30pm


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