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Board of Appeals





Owner/Applicant:  Brett & Jennifer Doan
Property:   35 Mast Hill Road
                Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:  Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 44686, Page 123

Plan Reference:  Site plan entitled, "#35 Mast Hill Road, Proposed Plot Plan of Land in Hingham, MA," prepared by John A. Hammer, III, 39 George Brown Street, Billerica, MA, dated May 22, 1978; proposed plan shown on Hingham MapsOnline, dated April 29, 2015 and stamped May 6, 2015; and architectural plans entitled, "Additions & Renovations to the Residence of Brett & Jennifer Doan, 35 Mast Hill Road, Hingham, MA," consisting of existing and proposed floor plans and elevations, prepared by Roger O. Hoit, AIA, 1175 Main Street, Hingham, MA, dated April 29, 2015, Drawings A2, A4, A7 and A9.


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Brett & Jennifer Doan (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to construct a front porch within the front yard setback and enlarge an existing one-car garage to accommodate three cars within the front and side yard setback at 35 Mast Hill Road in Residence District C.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on June 17, 2015 at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. A subsequent session was held on July 21, 2015. The Board panel consisted of its regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, and Joseph M. Fisher and associate member Alan M. Kearney.  The Applicant, Brett Doan, appeared to present the application as did the project architect, Roger Hoit, AIA. During the hearing, the applicant submitted a request to withdraw from the application the proposed demolition and reconstruction of an nonconforming attached garage as the work is permitted by-right under § III-I, 2. of the By-Law. The Board unanimously approve the request this portion of the application.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board also voted unanimously to grant a Variance from the front yard setback requirements under § IV-A of the By-Law to permit the construction of a new 43.8' x 4.8' porch.
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 hearing.


The subject property consists of approximately 1 acre (43,825 SF) improved by a preexisting nonconforming single-family dwelling (ca. 1967). The application describes the lot as limited in the front by the existing septic system and to the rear by an existing in ground pool and significant retaining walls. Photographs of the property demonstrate that the lot is affected by ledge outcroppings and variable grades.

The proposed plan calls for replacement of an existing attached 1.5-car garage with a new 3-car garage. The existing garage footprint is asymmetrical in shape. The proposed structure, which is permitted by right under § III-I, 2. (the so-called Hatfield Amendment), will improve the existing nonconforming front yard setback as measured to this portion of the single-family dwelling by approximately 2'. The submitted plan also includes a new portico at the secondary front entrance to the home. The Applicant represented that this improvement will not exceed 30 SF and as such is an allowed exemption under § IV-B, 9. of the By-Law. The proposed plan does require relief for a new covered porch along the front of the main structure. The proposed structure would be approximately 44' in length and 5' in depth and supported by 6 columns. The resulting front yard setback would be a minimum of 26.8' where 50' is required in Residence C.  Since the style of the existing residence is a Garrison, the second floor projects 1.4' over the first. The proposed porch will create a further incursion into the front yard setback of 3.4', or 148 SF beyond the current nonconformity.

The Board discussed what circumstances differentiate this property from others in the neighborhood.

The Applicant represented, and submitted photographs suggest, that the proposed porch and resulting noncompliant setback is consistent in design and placement to other properties in the neighborhood. The proposed front yard setback (26.8') is similar to 12 of the 30 other homes on Mast Hill Road. The record also includes letters of support from five residents on Mast Hill Lane.

Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members at the meeting, the Board has determined that:

  1. Circumstances related to soil, shape, or topography especially affect the land or structure in question:  The subject property is affected by ledge outcroppings and variable grades, in addition to an in-ground swimming pool and significant retaining walls, in the rear. While some properties within the neighborhood are affected similarly in terms of topography, this properties circumstances in combination are not common throughout the district.
  2. Owning to these circumstances, literal enforcement of the By-Law would involve substantial hardship: The topography of the lot and existing improvements limit alternative development opportunities. 
  3. Relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good: The proposed front porch will improve the appearance of the residence in a manner similar to others in the neighborhood. The record includes several letters of support from abutters, which suggest that the project will improve the value of the neighborhood. 
  4. Relief may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of the Zoning By-Law: The proposed porch is an allowed accessory structure and the additional incursion is relatively modest in size at 148 SF or 3.4' into the front setback beyond the existing nonconforming second floor overhang. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by W. Tod McGrath and seconded by Alan M. Kearney, the Board voted unanimously to grant a Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct a front porch within the front yard setback at 35 Mast Hill Road in Residence District C, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The rights authorized by this Variance shall expire one year from the date this Decision is filed with the Town Clerk, unless exercised or extended in accordance with the terms of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 10.
  2. The Applicant shall construct the Project in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearings before the Board.

This decision shall not take effect until a copy of the decision bearing the certification of the Town Clerk, that twenty (20) days have elapsed since the decision has been filed in the office of the Town Clerk and no appeal has been filed, or that if such appeal has been filed, that it has been dismissed or denied, is recorded with the Plymouth Registry of Deeds and/or the Plymouth County Land Court Registry, and indexed in the grantor index under the name of the record owner or is recorded and noted on the owner’s certificate of title.

For The Board of Appeals,

W. Tod McGrath
August 10, 2015