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Board of Appeals




Owner/Applicant: Suzanne Manning

Property: 7 Downing Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 45060, Page 74

Plan Reference: Plan entitled, "Plan of Land, 7 Downing Street, Hingham, MA," prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated April 17, 2014; and architectural plans entitled, "Proposed Elevations" and "Existing Elevations," prepared by HC Design, 146 Front Street, Suite 211, Scituate, MA, dated April 16, 2015, Drawings A2-0 and X2.0.


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Suzanne Manning (the "Applicant") for a Variance from § IV-A of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") to construct a single-story addition and deck resulting in a 13.3' side yard setback where 15' is required at 7 Downing Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on May 13, 2015, at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, Joseph M. Fisher, and Joseph W. Freeman. The Applicant appeared to present the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant a Variance from the side yard setback requirement under § IV-A of the By-Law.

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 9,853 SF improved by a single-family dwelling, detached single-car garage, and shed. The Hingham Board of Health approved the design of a new septic system in November 2014, which is to be installed in the northwest portion of the lot directly behind the existing dwelling.

The proposed plan would extend the dwelling into the southerly side yard setback an additional 5', resulting in a 13.3' setback for both a single-story addition and a proposed deck. The By-Law contains an exemption at § IV-C, 7., which allows projections of less than 30 SF into setbacks for any structure that does not supply useable floor area. The proposed deck would project 25.5 SF into the required side yard setback and as such does not require relief. The Applicant pointed to soil conditions, namely location of the approved septic system to the northwest corner of the lot, as a limiting factor in siting the proposed single-story addition. The Board reviewed the existing conditions and proposed plans, agreeing that the requested relief is relatively modest at less than 2'.


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:

a. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography especially affecting the land but not affecting generally the zoning district. The approved onsite septic system in the northeast portion of the lot is a limiting factor. This soil condition is not evident generally in the Residence A Zoning District. Given the circumstances of the property and the location of existing structures, there appear to be no other alternatives to site the addition;

b. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. A literal enforcement of the zoning ordinance would require the result in significant costs associated with redesign and/or relocation of the septic system. A grant of the requested relief will allow for a reasonable use that is entirely consistent with a single family use in the Residence A Zoning District;

c. A variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The proposed project will not create any noise, traffic or result in other similar negative impacts. The design of the proposed addition is consistent with the character of the neighborhood and other single family residential uses in the Residence A Zoning District. There will be no adverse effects on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good; and

d. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The de minimis incursion (~39 SF) into the side yard setback in no way derogates from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Joseph W. Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to grant a Variance from the side yard setback requirement under § IV-A of the By-Law approving construction of a single-story addition resulting in a 13.3' side yard setback where 15' is required at 7 Downing Street in Residence District A, 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, Chairman
June 1, 2015