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
Somerville Avenue 741 ZBA 2016-134 Dec 07, 2016 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:17am
Broadway 746 ZBA 2014-101 Nov 05, 2014 PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
Somerville Ave 749 ZBA 2014-41 Jun 04, 2014 PDF icon SomervilleAve749.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/27/2014 - 11:23am
Trull St 74b ZBA 2014-110 Dec 10, 2014 PDF icon TrullSt74B.pdf PDF icon Plan PDF icon Staff Report 02/19/2015 - 9:57am
Bow Street 75 ZBA 2015-02 Jan 02, 2015 PDF icon BowSt75 (WWOP).pdf 02/23/2015 - 9:22am
Rush St 75 ZBA 2018-66 Jun 20, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set for 6-20-2018 PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2018 - 6:28pm
Washington Street 75 ZBA 2017-27 Aug 16, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 08-03-17 PDF icon Staff Report 08/06/2018 - 12:24pm
Washington Street 75 ZBA 2017-27 Jul 12, 2017 PDF icon plan set
PDF icon Revised plan set
PDF icon HPC review
08/06/2018 - 12:30pm
Irving St 75 ZBA 2019-76 Sep 18, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Report - Revised
10/01/2019 - 2:53pm
Woods Ave 75-77 ZBA 2019-126 Dec 11, 2019 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Woods Ave 75-77 - Plans (POST).pdf PDF icon Woods Ave 75-77 - Staff Report.pdf 01/08/2020 - 4:31pm
School St 76 ZBA 2018-34 Apr 18, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 4-10-18 PDF icon Staff Report 08/03/2018 - 11:28am
Broadway 76 PB 2011-18 Dec 15, 2011 PDF icon Broadway76.pdf PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 01/25/2012 - 9:06am
Cross St 76 ZBA 2013-30 Jun 05, 2013 PDF icon Cross76.pdf PDF icon Plan PDF icon Staff Report 06/10/2013 - 10:34am
Boston St 76 ZBA 2012-36 Jun 06, 2012 PDF icon BostonSt76.pdf PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Structural Analysis/Construction Letter
PDF icon Photo 1
PDF icon Photo 3
PDF icon Staff Report 08/02/2012 - 12:02pm
School Street 76 ZBA 2018-103 Sep 05, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plan Set 7-26-18
PDF icon Accessibility Narrative 7-26-18
PDF icon Staff Report 09/12/2018 - 9:26am

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