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Board of Appeals




Owner/Applicant: Graham Howarth and McKenzie Howarth
257 Hersey Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 257 Hersey Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 43283, Page 18

Plan References: Existing conditions plan entitled, "Proposed Septic System, 257 Hersey Street, Hingham Massachusetts," prepared by McS Environmental Engineering Services, dated March 15, 2010 and an architectural plan set entitled, "Howarth Residence - Addition and Renovations," prepared by Genesis Design Associates, dated December 16, 2014, Drawings L-101 (Proposed Site Plan) and A-201 - A-204 (Elevations)

This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Graham and McKenzie Howarth (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 an addition including an attached single-car garage with living space above resulting in a 3' 7" side yard setback at 257 Hersey Street where 15' is required in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on January 14, 2015, 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. The Applicant appeared to present the application. 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.

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 is 6,169 SF in size and improved by a single-family dwelling and detached single-car garage. The premises is irregular in shape, almost like a trapezoid. The residence is positioned parallel to both the street and the southerly side property line; however, the side yard setback to the north ranges from approximately 20' at the front of the house to 14' at the rear due to the lot shape. The preexisting nonconforming garage is located on the rear property line and just 1'-5" from the northerly side property line.

The proposed plan calls for demolition of the nonconforming detached garage and construction of a 2-story addition to the residence, consisting of a new single-car garage with living space both above and behind. The proposed addition would be located 8'-4" to 3'-7" from the shared property line with 253 Hersey Street.

The planned demolition of the existing detached garage would eliminate the existing incursion into the rear yard setback, while the proposed addition would increase the existing setback between the northerly property line and the detached garage. The rear of the property is also located entirely within the 50' buffer zone to a wetland resource. The proposed plan would remove all structures from this "no disturb" area.

The Board determined that the proposed addition would be approximately 12' x 27' and may create an additional incursion of approximately 100 SF in the setback. The Board reviewed the proposed height of addition in relation to the existing house. It will be slightly lower than the existing house.

The Chair opened the hearing for public comment. No one in the audience wished to comment. The Applicant noted that the application had included a letter of support from the owners of the adjacent property.

Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and other information available to the Board, 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 Property shaped like a trapezoid. There exists a significant slope to the property from the front to the rear. The rear of the lot is located with the buffer zone to a wetland resource. The on-site septic system is located to the west of the house. Surrounding properties do not generally share these circumstances.

b. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. The requested relief will allow the Applicant to remodel and expand the existing dwelling, while eliminating the existing rear yard nonconformity and improving the side yard nonconformity by replacing existing the detached garage. A grant of a Variance in this instance 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. In fact, the proposed project will improve the existing dwelling in a manner consistent with many single family residences in the surrounding neighborhood. There will be no adverse effects or 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 design of the proposed addition is consistent with the character of the neighborhood. The proposed project will eliminate the existing rear yard setback nonconformity and relocate, but improve, the existing side yard setback nonconformity. 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 Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct an addition including an attached single-car garage with living space above resulting in a 3' 7" side yard setback at 257 Hersey Street where 15' is required 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.
2. The ground floor of the attached garage shall not be converted to living space in the future.

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 W. Freeman