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.

Streetsort descending Number Case Number First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Somerville Avenue 741 ZBA 2016-134 Dec 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:17am
Somerville Avenue 391-395 ZBA 2019-37-E1 Apr 22, 2020 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Staff Report 05/13/2020 - 3:57pm
Somerville Avenue 321 PB 2017-08 May 04, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Riverdog_Facade_3-30-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 12:00pm
Somerville Avenue 515 ZBA 2018-44 Jul 18, 2018 PDF icon Plan Set 3-9-18 05/21/2018 - 2:14pm
Somerville Avenue 471 ZBA 2019-74 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 7-10-19
PDF icon Plan Set 8-8-19
PDF icon Plan Set 8-29-19
PDF icon Staff Report 09/25/2019 - 2:21pm
Somerville Avenue 515 ZBA 2018-122-R1-7/19 Aug 07, 2019 PDF icon Decision
PDF icon Decision Annulment
PDF icon Applicant Memo 7-12-19
PDF icon Civil Plans 7-17-19
PDF icon Accessibility Memo 7-18-19
PDF icon Architectural Plans 7-18-19
PDF icon Plan Set 7-29-19
PDF icon Staff Report 05/13/2020 - 3:57pm
Somerville Avenue 453 ZBA 2019-114 Nov 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 11-4-19
PDF icon Accessibility Letter 11-14-19
PDF icon 2019.12.03 Ground Floor Plan (POST).pdf
PDF icon Shadow Studies COMBINED.pdf
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Somerville Ave 453 - Memo 2019-12-5.pdf
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Views
03/06/2020 - 11:37am
Somerville Avenue 337 ZBA 2016-09-R1-0317 Aug 09, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 12:07pm
South St 16 ZBA 2013-88 Jan 08, 2014 PDF icon Appeal Application
PDF icon Appeal Response
PDF icon Staff Report 01/06/2014 - 4:49pm
South St 16 ZBA 2014-36 Jun 04, 2014 PDF icon SouthSt16 (#2014-36).pdf PDF icon Plans 11/05/2014 - 8:51am
South St 18 ZBA 2014-35 Jun 04, 2014 PDF icon SouthSt18 (#2014-35) (WWOP).pdf PDF icon Plans 11/05/2014 - 8:52am
South St 33 ZBA 2014-113 Dec 10, 2014 PDF icon SouthSt33.pdf PDF icon Plans
PDF icon Business Information
PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
South St 111-153 DRA2020-0272 Aug 06, 2020 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Memo 08/03/2020 - 4:28pm
South Street 45 ZBA 2019-120 Nov 20, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 10-15-19
PDF icon Cover Letter 10-15-19
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 10-15-19
PDF icon Plan Set 11-14-19
PDF icon Staff Report 01/08/2020 - 4:08pm
South Street 138 PB 2015-03 Apr 02, 2015 PDF icon SouthSt138 (WWOP).pdf 05/13/2015 - 4:38pm

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