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)
  • Members

  • Reports & Decisions

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
Skilton 0 ZBA 2016-98 Oct 05, 2016 PDF icon Skilton 0-SPSR Application Set with 3D street views-160729.pdf 09/20/2018 - 7:10pm
Freemont 1 ZBA 2016-35 Jun 08, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/18/2018 - 3:57pm
Howe Street 1 ZBA 2016-88 Feb 15, 2017 PDF icon Decision 08/06/2018 - 11:23am
Benton Rd 1 PB2009-17 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Munroe St 1 ZBA 2018-88 Sep 17, 2018 PDF icon Decision WWOP PDF icon Plan Set PDF icon Staff Report 09/26/2018 - 1:03pm
Benton Rd 1 PB 2010-60-R1-4-2012 May 17, 2012 PDF icon BentonRd1-decision _2_.pdf PDF icon Decision on Motion for Summary Judgment
PDF icon Plans
05/25/2012 - 8:57am
Westwood Rd 1 ZBA 2012-29 May 02, 2012 PDF icon WestwoodRd1.pdf PDF icon Plot & Site Plans PDF icon Staff Report 06/11/2012 - 1:02pm
Williams Ct 1 ZBA 2017-82 Nov 08, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans - for Nov 8, 2017
PDF icon Plot Plan
PDF icon Updated Plans for Nov. 29 2017
PDF icon Staff Report for Nov 8, 2017
PDF icon Updated Staff Report for Nov 29, 2017
08/07/2018 - 1:16pm
McGrath Highway 1 ZBA 2016-124 Jan 04, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Plans PDF icon Staff Report 09/20/2018 - 1:44pm
Glenwood Rd 1 ZBA2007-21-R0808 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
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
Davis Square 1 ZBA2005-27-R1108 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
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

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