About Planning and Zoning
The Planning Division develops recommendations that allow us to best utilize our available land resources in meeting the needs of our residents and businesses. We seek to develop more and better community focused spaces while preserving the character of Somerville and incorporating the vision residents have for their neighborhoods. The Planning Division pursues these goals by administering and implementing the SomerVision comprehensive plan; which addresses the City's goals, policies, and actions for the years of 2010 to 2040. SomerVision and our neighborhood planning projects help us understand the needs of residents, while our zoning code aims to keep development aligned with our long-term planning goals.
You can learn more about SomerVision at www.somervision2040.com
You can learn more about our Neighborhood Plans at www.somervillebydesign.com
The Planning Division also administers the Historic Preservation ordinances by providing review and recommendation of cases before the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Historic Preservation Commission. You can learn more about the Historic Preservation Commission on their web page.
Information about projects reviewed by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is provided further down the page.
General responsibilities of the Planning Division include:
- Planning, organizing, directing, and coordinating planning activities for the City of Somerville, including updating and implementing the City's Zoning Ordinance.
- Administering planning and zoning activities before the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, including preparation of reports and memoranda on matters before each Board.
- Administering planning and zoning activities before the Design Review Committee on permit applications subject to design review.
- Maintaining Somerville's historic resources and unique character which draws visitors to the City.
- Coordinating the flow of information and procedures with other related City departments and offices.
- Performing duties as directed by the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, including maintaining current and historical statistics, reports, analysis relevant to the activities and needs of the Boards.
- Serving as liaison with the other metropolitan, state and federal agencies and private institutions on matters pertaining to planning and zoning regulations and best practices.
- Supporting sustainable growth that expands job opportunities, improves services and contributes to the City's tax base.
- Striving to enhance relationships with residents and neighborhood organizations while expanding participation in the planning process.
Review Boards & Officials
Studies & Proposed Amendments
Reports & Decisions
Regulations & Policies
Forms & Information
Application Process (More Info)
If you have questions about permits and Development Review first go HERE to utilize our Plan11 virtual assistant tool. If you still have questions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will either assist you via email or schedule an appointment with staff depending on the question. Virtual appointments can be set up faster but in-person appointments are also available. Walk-ins at City Hall are not advised given most of our staff is working remotely and the person who could address your particular questions may not be present.
When you are ready to file an application go to somervillezoning.com or click HERE.
Public Meetings Being Held Online (Info & Instructions)
We are currently hosting public meetings online to respect social distancing guidelines. To facilitate community participation, we have created Instructions on Joining Online Meetings. We have also created a List of Frequently Asked Questions about participation. Please view the City Calendar for specific meeting dates and information.
Permit Tracking System Instructions (View Video)
We have launched Plan11, a smart tool to help answer your Planning and Zoning questions!
The Planning Division maintains three websites that offer a more
in-depth look at Planning and Zoning initiatives in the City:
The Somerville City Council adopted a new Somerville Zoning Ordinance and Official Zoning Atlas on December 12, 2019. SomervilleZoning.com is the new home of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance and provides a digital copy of the document and Atlas, guidance for navigating the new permitting process, copies of any future proposed Text Amendments or Map changes, technical reports, and more.
SomervilleByDesign.com tracks the City's neighborhood planning initiatives as we work to create safer, friendlier, and more efficient streets and public spaces.
At SomerVision2040.com, you can learn more about the SomerVision2040 comprehensive plan, a document written in partnership with our community that outlines our big picture ideas and goals for the next two decades.
Studies & Proposed Amendments
- Staff Report Draft 2/18/2016
- Preliminary Impacts Memo 2/2016
- Ordinance Submitted by 11 Registered Voters 10/2015