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
McGrath Highway 1 ZBA 2018-138 Dec 12, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Narrative of changes
PDF icon Architectural Plans 9-27-18
PDF icon Civil Plans 9-26-18
PDF icon Staff Report 03/12/2019 - 12:11pm
Westwood Rd 1 ZBA 2016-04 Aug 17, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/21/2018 - 10:24am
Howe St 1 ZBA 2011-34 May 18, 2011 PDF icon HoweSt1.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/06/2011 - 1:09pm
Summer St 1 ZBA2008-43 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Assembly Row Block 1 1 PB 2011-14 Oct 05, 2011 PDF icon ASQ Block 1 Combined Decision.pdf PDF icon Architectural Renderings, Plans, Elevations
PDF icon Civil Plans
PDF icon Neighborhood Context
PDF icon DRC 7-28-11
PDF icon DRC 9-8-11
PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 2:14pm
Howe 1 ZBA 2016-88 Sep 21, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 10:46am
Freemont 1 ZBA 2016-35 Jun 08, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 3:43pm
McGrath Highway 1 ZBA 2018-138-E1 Mar 25, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon McGrath 1 - Staff Report.pdf 04/07/2020 - 9:26am
Clarendon Hill 00 40B#2020-0001 Jun 10, 2020 PDF icon Decision
PDF icon Decision (with Clerk Stamp)
Package icon Complete Packet - September 16 PDF icon P&Z 40B Overview (20.06.03)
PDF icon Staff Report (09.16.20)
PDF icon Sept 30 Draft Conditions
10/20/2020 - 3:35pm
Dane St. 0 ZBA 2016-76 Nov 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 1:28pm
Assembly Line Park 0 PB 2006-59-MA18 Sep 22, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon SPSR Requested Waivers PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 12:19pm
Assembly Row Preliminary Master Plan Revision 3 0 PB 2006-59-R3(1/2016) Feb 18, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 09/17/2018 - 1:41pm
Fremont St 0 ZBA 2017-130 Dec 22, 2017 PDF icon Initial Plan Set Dec 4 2017 12/22/2017 - 4:51pm
North Point 0 PB 2014-29 Oct 16, 2014 PDF icon Northpoint.pdf PDF icon Neighborhood Development Plan PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
Elmwood 0 ZBA 2016-11 Jun 22, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 3:37pm

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