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Board of Appeals






Owner/Applicant:            Stephen and Anne Pratt
Premises:                      50 Garrison Street
                                   Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:             Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 44612, Page 154

Plan References:              Existing conditions plan entitled, "Plot Plan of Land," prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated March 4, 2015 and an architectural plan set, including floor and elevation plans, prepared by Aprea Design, dated October 21, 2014 and revised through March 18 ,2015.


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Stephen and Anne Pratt (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct a two-car garage with living space above by expanding an existing nonconforming attached two-car garage and resulting in a 5.1’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 50 Garrison Road in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on April 22, 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 Freeman. The Applicant was represented by Attorney Jeffrey A. Tocchio, Esq. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief from  the side yard setback requirement under § IV-A of the By-Law subject to the conditions contained herein.

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 Property contains 13,786 +/- SF of land located on the south side of Garrison Road, and is located within the Residence A Zoning District.  The Property is improved with an existing single-family dwelling and attached two-car garage.  Both the existing garage and home were built in 1930, prior to the adoption of the By-Law, and qualify as preexisting nonconforming structures subject to the grandfathering protections of M.G.L. c. 40A, §6.  The existing garage is located within the 15-foot side yard setback under § IV-A, and is approximately 10.6’ from the easterly property line.  The existing structure is also located 8.2’ from the westerly property line. 

The existing one story, carriage-style garage is 19’ x 20’ in size, with under-sized swing-door openings 7’6” in width and 8’ in height (the arch in the carriage-style doors begins at 7’).   Due to the under-sized nature of the existing garage, the Applicant does not utilize the garage to park vehicles.  The Applicant represented that the project architect, Jonathan Aprea, confirmed that upon visual inspection, in his professional opinion, the foundation does not appear to meet the minimum code requirements needed (i) for proper frost protection, or (ii) suitable dimension to allow for the construction of the additional second floor loads, but appears to be “slab on grade.”

An existing cesspool is located towards the rear “center” of the Property, which severely limits the placement of a structure due to the Board of Health Regulations relating to the safe distance of structures from septic components.  The location of the cesspool is depicted on the plans prepared by Aprea Design and submitted to the Board as part of the application.  The Property is also burdened with significant ledge, as exhibited by multiple ledge outcroppings in the existing basement, which limits its functionality.  These existing conditions are depicted in the photographs and on Plans submitted with the application.

The Petitioners’ proposed project is to remove the existing nonconforming garage and construct a 24’ by 20’ garage, with a 6.5’ by 16’ storage area.  The new garage and storage area are to be located approximately 5.1’ from the easterly property line; thus, requiring a side yard setback variance. The new garage will occupy all of the space occupied by the existing garage structure (88+/- SF within the side yard setback) and will only occupy an additional 146 +/- SF within the side yard setback (the storage area will occupy only 27+/- SF).  The new garage will have two carriage-style doors, each 8’ in height and 9’ in width.  The garage will allow for internal access to/from the existing dwelling, as well as include an out-swing garage door at the southerly (rear) portion of the storage area in order to allow for passage through to the backyard of the Property.  Above the new garage (not the storage area) will be a 19’ by 23’ living space for use by the Applicant’s family (which is not possible in the dwelling basement as the majority of the area is restricted to crawl-space due to ledge outcroppings).  A new, code-compliant foundation will be poured, which will support a second story.  The new garage will be simple in design, showing a carriage-style towards Garrison Road.  These alterations are reflected on the architectural plans submitted as part of the application.  Construction of the new garage will allow the Petitioners to safely park their vehicles within the garage, allowing for direct access to the interior of the house.


Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, the Board has determined that:

  1. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography especially affecting the land but not affecting generally the zoning district. The Property was previously improved with the preexisting nonconforming undersized garage structure, dating to 1930, which is located within 10.6’ of the easterly side yard lot line.  The existing dwelling is also located 8.2’ from the westerly side yard lot line.  An existing cesspool is located towards the rear “center” of the Property.  The Petitioners established that the Property is burdened with subsurface ledge deposits, as are clearly exhibited within the basement.  The ledge, and combination of the location of the existing structure relative to the cesspool on the Property, are unique to the Property and not generally found in the zoning district. 
  2. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise.  The location of the existing dwelling relative to the cesspool presents significant difficulties and financial hardship with locating an addition elsewhere on the Property.  As a result, the existing garage is of limited contributory value to the house lot, in that its sub-standard size will not accommodate many contemporary vehicles.  This presents substantial hardship as the Petitioners are unable to garage vehicles or add onto the existing house without moving the septic system, and/or blasting ledge.  The hardships demonstrated are appropriate for modest dimensional variances (additional 146 SF incursion into the setback), particularly where a dimensional nonconformity presently exists, and where there is no proposed change to the character of the zoning district or introduction of inconsistent land uses.  The requested relief allows for a reasonable use that is  consistent with a single family residential use allowed within the Residence A Zoning District.
  3. A Variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good.  The project will not create any noise, traffic or result in other similar negative impacts.   The new garage project is consistent with single family residential use 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. 
  4. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.  The project is designed to conform to the character of the neighborhood, and is generally consistent with similar well-conceived projects receiving relief from this Board.  The granting of a dimensional variance will conserve the value of buildings, a stated purpose under Section I-A, 2 of the By-Laws, in that the underutilized pre-existing garage will be upgraded to be functional, and support additional residential living above. 


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Joseph W. Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct a two-car garage with living space above by expanding an existing nonconforming attached two-car garage and resulting in a 5.1’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 50 Garrison Road in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Applicant shall complete the construction in accordance with the plans submitted with the application and representations made at the hearing.

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
May 13, 2015