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Board of Appeals




Owner/Applicant:       Blair Collins
Premises:                 44 Gilford Road
                              Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:         Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Land Court Cert. #101293, Book 598, Page 72

Plan References:         Plans entitled, "Plan of Land, 44 Gilford Road, Hingham, MA," and "Plan of Land Showing Structures Abutting 44 Gilford Road, Hingham, MA," prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated March 17, 2015 and an architectural plan set, including floor, elevation, and section plans, prepared by Virtual Architec LLC, dated January 31, 2014.


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Blair Collins (the “Applicant”) for Variances from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct a covered porch addition to a reconstructed single family dwelling, resulting in a 24.4' front yard setback where 50' is required, and to locate a 16’x20’ shed approximately 5' from the side and rear property lines at 44 Gilford Road where 20' is required in Residence C. 

A public hearing was duly noticed to open on November 19, 2014; however, the Board continued the hearing to January 14, 2015 in the Applicant's absence. Subsequent sessions were held upon mutual agreement between the Board and the Applicant on February 11, 2015, March 18, 2015 and May 6, 2015. All hearings took place at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, and Joseph M. Fisher and associate member Robyn Maguire. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief 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 subject property consists approximately 10,240 SF and includes a pre-existing, nonconforming single-family dwelling. The Applicant represented and the submitted plans confirmed that the property is affected by significant ledge outcroppings and topographical changes. The existing dwelling is serviced by a cess pool located to the immediate rear of the structure.

The proposed plan calls for reconstruction of the dwelling and the addition of a covered front porch, which would extend into the required front yard setback. The Applicant also seeks to replace an existing nonconforming shed with a larger structure that would be located within both side and rear yard setbacks.

During the initial hearing, abutters expressed support for the proposed front porch construction, but also concern about the size and location of the proposed shed. Members noted that there is presently a nonconforming shed in the backyard (approx. 10.5' x 10.5' in size and  approx. 9' from the rear property line), but agreed that the initially proposed shed would be too large and too close to the property line. The Board also noted that the submitted site plan did not accurately reflect the applicant's requested relief in terms of the front yard setback. The applicant asked for time to both consider alternative designs and locations for the shed and correct the front yard setback discrepancy and the Board continued the hearing.

The Applicant subsequently submitted revised plans in advance of a subsequent hearing on March 18, 2015 to address expressed concerns. The proposed plan as revised calls for a minimum 23.3' front yard setback at the southwesterly corner of the covered porch. The proposed front yard setback increases to approximately 27' on the southeasterly corner of the front porch due to slight variations in the lot shape. Members noted that the front setback could be as near the street as 29' pursuant to the averaging exemption contained in § IV-B, 9. of the By-Law. The Applicant also reduced the proposed size of the detached accessory structure from 16' x 20' to 16' x 12' with a 4' x 16' porch. The location likewise reduced the incursion into side and rear setbacks from 5' to 7.5'. 

A direct abutter to the property expressed interest in screening the proposed shed from view. The Applicant agreed to install a vegetative buffer along the rear property line to screen the accessory structure from the neighboring property at 37 Lydon Rd.


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 is affected by large areas of ledge as well as a significant grade changes. The only available location for the new septic system is to the rear of the dwelling, where a nonconforming accessory structure is presently located, due to the presence of ledge and absence of adequate soils elsewhere on the lot. Finally, there is variation in the shape of the lot such that the side meet the front property line at a slight angle. These conditions are not generally found in the zoning district.

2.       The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise.  The applicant is not able to maintain the existing detached accessory structure, which is required for storage, in its current location because this is the only area available on the lot for the new septic system. Other properties in the neighborhood include similar porches to the proposed. If relief is not granted, the applicant would not have the same enjoyment of the property as others.

3.       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 proposed shed will provide the same utility as the existing detached accessory structure, while improving its appearance. There will be no adverse effects on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good; and

4.       A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.  The proposed shed relocates the existing shed's nonconforming setbacks from one side of the lot to the other, but does not substantially intensify these noncompliant dimensions. The proposed increase in the size of the shed is modest. The requested incursion into the front yard setback for the covered porch is relatively small.  Both improvements will conform to the character of the neighborhood. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Robyn Maguire, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested Variances from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct a covered porch addition to a reconstructed single family dwelling, resulting in a 23.3' front yard setback where 50' is required, and to locate a 16’x12’ shed with a 16' x 4' porch approximately 7.5' from the side and rear property lines at 44 Gilford Road where 20' is required in Residence 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
  3. The shed ridge shall not be more than 16' above the lowest point of the existing grade that will serve as the foundation of the structure.
  4. The Applicant shall submit a landscaping plan to the Zoning Administrator specifying the plant material to serve as a vegetative buffer of not less than 6' in height along the shared property line with 37 Lyndon Road. Plantings shall be installed prior to issuance of a occupancy permit for the dwelling.

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