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Board of Appeals



Applicant and                                  Lincoln Street Realty Trust
Property Owner:                              John S. Hajjar, Trustee
                                                    135 East Howard Street
                                                    Quincy, MA 02169

Premises:                                        184 Lincoln Street
                                                     Hingham, MA  02043

Title Reference:                               Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 22660, Page 46 Plan Reference:  Plans entitled, "Double Sided Pylon Sign (Externally Illuminated),"prepared by ViewPoint Sign and Awning, dated June 11, 2014 and revised through January 21, 2015 2014

This matter came before the Zoning Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of John S. Hajjar, Trustee of the  Lincoln Street Realty Trust (the "Applicant") for a Variance from §V-B of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to replace an existing ground sign with a multi-tenant sign of 18’ high by 11’10” wide at 184 Lincoln Street in Business B District.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at the Hingham Town Hall. The said public hearing was continued at the request of the applicant to December 17, 2014 and January 21, 2015. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Acting Chairman, and Joseph W. Freeman and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant was represented by John S. Hajjar, Trustee, Bruce Issadore, Esq., Scott Spaulding, Account Manager with ViewPoint Sign and Awning, and Frank Collura,  Property Manager. At the conclusion of the hearing and following modification of the proposed plans, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief.

Throughout its deliberations the Board has been mindful of the statements of the Applicants, their representatives, and comments of the general public, all as made or received at the public hearing.

The subject property supports a multi-tenant shopping plaza, which includes a Rite Aid Pharmacy, Starbucks, Lapels Dry Cleaning and Hingham Physical Therapy. The proposed plan calls for modifications to the existing pylon ground sign, generally intended to create a more cohesive design for tenants within the plaza. Installation would occur in conjunction with a planned landscaping improvement project.

The plan submitted in support of the original application proposed a sign that would be 96 SF in size and 18' in height. Section V-B of the Zoning By-Law allows 24 SF ground signs with a maximum height of 12' upon issuance of a Special Permit. However, the Board previously granted a variance in 1977 to allow a 40 SF ground sign 9.5' from the front property line where 10' is required.

During the initial hearing, members expressed concern about the proposed size and increased height of the ground sign. The Board asked the Applicant to review its past decisions for examples of similar relief on other commercial property. In response, Attorney Issadore provided the Board with a supplemental letter in support of the application, dated December 3, 2014, and copies of Zoning Board decisions for signage in the immediate area. In particular, he enclosed a 1988 decision in which the Board first denied a Special Permit request to install an accessory sign that complied with the By-Law and later granted a Variance request to install a larger and taller ground sign at Anchor Plaza, 211 Lincoln Street. He also provided several photographs of other signs along Route 3A that similarly exceed the maximum height limits established in the By-Law, though these signs likely predate the present regulations. Since the Board remained concerned with the proposed size of the sign, the Applicant submitted revised plans at the January 21, 2015 hearing. The revised drawings call for a sign that is 14' in height measured to the top of the structural components and 12' to the highest lettering. Attorney Issadore explained that the modification represents a 20% reduction from the initial proposal. After discussion, the Board agreed that the ground sign as revised would conform to the 12' height limitation contained in Section V-B. However, the Applicant still required relief from the maximum permissible area of 24 SF.

The Applicant explained that the property's two separate entrances from Lincoln Street and Thaxter Street affect the subject property and not generally others in the district. The Applicant, and one of its tenants, indicated that the current size of the single ground sign on Lincoln Street does not sufficiently direct vehicular traffic from both streets to the multiple onsite businesses. The Applicant asserted that it would experience hardship if relief were not granted in that it would not be able to attract occupants to its existing space. The application also noted that the proposed sign will promote safety and the proposed landscaping will improve the appearance of the development. Finally, relief would allow the property to be used for its intended commerical/retail purposes.

After review, the Board voted unanimously grant the requested relief to replace an existing ground sign with a larger ground sign at 184 Lincoln Street in Business District B. Said relief will result in a sign with a maximum area of 46 SF where 24 SF is allowed under Scedule of Sign Regulations contained in the By-Law.

In granting the requested relief, the Board found that:

  1. Circumstances related to the location of the property at the corner of Lincoln and Thaxter Street and its topography especially affect the property and not generally the zoning district in which it is located.
  2. Literal enforcement of the Zoning by-Law would involve substantial hardship since businesses cannot be located from the adjacent roadways absent a larger ground sign.
  3. Desirable relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The improved design will have positive impacts on the overall appearance of the development. Additionally, the visibility of the sign and safety of vehicles accessing the plaza and on Lincoln Street will be improved.
  4. The requested Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of the Zoning By-Law. The relief will allow the property to serve its intended business uses.

The Variance is granted subject the following conditions:

  1. That all work be performed in substantial accordance with the representations made at the public hearing.
  2. The ground sign shall be no greater in width that 7' with a proportionate reduction in all other dimensions such that the maximum area does not exceed 46 SF. The Applicant shall submit revised plans to the Zoning Adminsitrator to determine compliance with this decision.

The zoning relief granted herein shall not become effective until (i) the Town Clerk has certified on a copy of this Decision that twenty (20) days have elapsed after the decision has been filed in the office of the Town Clerk and no appeal has been filed or that such an appeal has been filed within such time, and that (ii) a copy of the decision so certified has been duly recorded in the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds and indexed in the grantor index under the name of the owner of record or is recorded and noted on the owner’s certificate of title.

For the Zoning Board of Appeals,

Joseph W. Freeman