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Board of Appeals




Owner/Applicant:       Mark and Kelley Truchan
Property:                 19 Ship Street
                              Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:        Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 44832, Page 203

Plan Reference:         Plan entitled, "Site Plan, 19 Ship Street - Hingham, MA," prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated October 10, 2013, marked up to show proposed garage footprint; excerpt from the site plan marked with slope calculations; and architectural plan set, entitled, "Truchan Residence, New Construction," prepared by Pierce Design, 15 Beach Lane, Hingham, MA, dated January 15, 2015, including a cover and drawings A1 - A5.


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Mark and Kelley Truchan (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) to reconstruct and extend an existing nonconforming garage within the required side yard setback at 19 Ship Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on March 18, 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.  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 8,700 +/- SF  and is improved by an existing single family dwelling and a detached accessory structure. Both the existing home and garage were build prior to the adoption of the By-Law, and qualify as pre-existing non-conforming structures subject to the grandfathering protections of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 6.  The principal structure is centrally located on the lot, almost equidistant from the front and rear property lines at 19.9' and 16' respectively. The dwelling is "T" shaped, with the wider front portion skewed slightly to the south and the longer rear portion skewed slightly to the north. The existing accessory structure is located in the southeast corner of the lot and approximately 2.5' from the side property line. Its footprint is 20' x 18' in size.

The property is rectangular in shape at approximately 87' in width and 101' in length. The natural topography slopes steeply up from the street surface. Grade changes are most severe in the northwest corner of the lot with a roughly 27.5% slope between Ship Street and the front of the house. Grades on the opposite side of the lot where the existing driveway intersects with the street are more gradual.

The Applicant proposes to construct a new garage, approximately 24’ by 22’ in size, on the footprint of the existing garage, as reflected on the Plans submitted with the Applicant’s application.  The Applicant indicated that the purpose of the project was to replace a deteriorated, nonfunctional garage with one moderately larger that would accommodate modern vehicles. Consistent with the existing garage structure, the proposed garage will be situated at the top of the driveway slope. The proposed new garage will not encroach closer to the side yard lot line than the existing garage structure, or encroach into the rear yard setback.  The new accessory structure will occupy all of the space occupied by the existing garage (approximately 360 SF) and will only occupy an additional 50 sq. ft. within the side yard setback.  Most of the additional proposed footprint area of the new garage, when compared to the existing garage structure, will be located outside of the side yard setback.

The proposed new garage will be capable of safely garaging two typical contemporary-sized vehicles. The proposed garage will be simple in design, showing its gable end towards Ship Street, as reflected on the architectural plans submitted with Applicant’s application.  A small storage loft will created above the garage bays and achieved by raising the height of the existing structure from 14' to 22'-3".

The Applicant submitted a letter of support signed by abutters and neighbors residing at 18 Ship Street, 15 Ship Street, 25 Ship Street, 22 Cottage Street and 13 Ship Street who all found that reconstruction of a garage at the proposed location would be “in keeping with the neighborhood and the scale of the properties” and that it would “not be a detriment” to any of their properties.  One resident at the hearing questioned whether the project met all the requirements of M.G.L. Ch. 40A, § 10.  The Board committed to review the statutory criteria in its assessment of this variance application.


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. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography especially affecting the land but not affecting generally the zoning district. The property slopes significantly downward towards Ship Street.  The slopes are particularly evident in the northwest portion of the lot. The lot is rectangular, but relatively narrow in shape, and it is clear that the narrow shape of the lot would make any kind of reasonable improvement to the garage impractical. The property is improved by a centrally-located, "T" shaped dwelling, which dates to 1832. The property was also previously improved with a pre-existing non-conforming undersized accessory structure, which is located within 2.5' of the southerly side property line.  The combination of the topography, lot shape, and the location of the existing structures on the lot, are not generally found in the neighborhood.  It is the confluence of all these factors, which together, are unique to the property and give rise to the particular hardship suffered by the Applicant.  The layout and topography are conditions that are not evident generally in the Residence A Zoning District.  Given the topography of the property and the location of existing structures, there appear to be no other alternatives to site the garage;

  2. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise.  The residential use of the sloped driveway and vehicle access areas, absent the opportunity to garage vehicles, would result in potential safety issues for owners of the property and their guests, particularly during the winter season.  The existing garage is deteriorated and does not function for its intended purposes. A literal enforcement of the zoning ordinance would result in a structure that would be functionally too narrow, thereby creating a substantial hardship for the applicant.  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;

  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 design of the proposed garage 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

  4. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The de minimis increase in the size of the pre-existing non-conforming accessory structure in no way derogates from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.  The record shows that the proposed structure is appropriate for the neighborhood in which it is to be built.


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 reconstruction of a on the property and extension of a non-conforming side yard setback of 2.5' where 15' is required 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.
  1. The Applicant shall construct the Project in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearings before the Board such that:

    1. the side yard setback shall be no less than 2.5';
    2. there shall be no incursion into the rear yard setback; and
    3. the resulting footprint shall be no greater than 24' wide and 22' in depth.
  1. The accessory structure may not be converted to habitable living space.

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,

Joseph M. Fisher
April 29, 2015