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This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") at the
request of Congregation Sha'aray Shalom (the "Applicant") for an
administrative review or a "Dover Determination" of a proposed ground
sign at 1112 Main Street in Residence District B.
The Board reviewed the request during a duly noticed public meeting
on June 29, 2015 in Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board
panel consisted of its regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, and
Joseph W. Freeman and associate member Alan Kearney. During the meeting,
the Applicant was represented by Grace Strake. At the conclusion of
this subsequent meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve the
Throughout its deliberations, the Board has been mindful of the
statements of the Applicant and the comments of the general public, all
as made or received at the public meeting.
The Applicant plans to replace its existing ground sign at 1112 Main
Street in Residence District B. Section V-B of the Zoning By-Law permits
ground signs between 4 SF and 20 SF by special permit in residential
districts; however, signs of this size are required to be set back 15'
from the front property line. The maximum permissible height of a ground
sign in all residential districts is also 6'.
The Board granted a Special Permit A1 and Variance to the Applicant
in 1984, permitting the present ground sign to be located 2' from the
front property line. The decision included a condition that the sign
could not exceed 12 SF in size. Congregation Sha'aray Shalom now seeks
approval to install a 7.5' high ground sign with a 20 SF double-sided
panel in the same location.
The Applicant, as a religious institution, is considered a protected
use pursuant to MGL c. 40A, § 3. For this reason, the Board determined
that variance and special permit standards are not appropriate tools to
assess the proposed modification. The Hingham Zoning By-Law delegates
review of exempt uses, and particularly the structures or land that
support these uses, to the Planning Board (Section III-B, 8.). Since the
definition of structure specifically exempts signs, the Zoning Board
maintains jurisdiction over the review.
The Board discussed during the meeting whether the required setback
and maximum height would be unreasonable regulations as applied to this
Applicant. Members noted that the right-of-way in this portion of Main
Street is significant in terms of width and the sign would in fact be
located more than 40' from the paved portion of the road. The proposed
size, which is permissible in the district, and height, which is only
modestly taller than that permitted, were considered reasonable in this
location given the distance to the traveled portion of Main Street.
Members also agreed that the sign is consistent with other institutional
users in the neighborhood.
After review of the information presented during the meeting, the
Board determined that the setback and height limitations specified in
Section V-B of the By-Law for ground signs in residential districts, if
applied to the subject property, would be an unreasonable regulation of a
protected religious use. Upon a motion made by Joseph W. Freeman and
seconded by A. Kearney, the Board then voted unanimously to approve the
20 SF sign as presented by the applicant, subject to the following
1. The Applicant shall locate the proposed sign no closer than 2'
from the front property line as approved by the 1984 variance.
For The Board of Appeals,
W. Tod McGrath
August 26, 2015