View Other Items in this Archive | View All Archives | Printable Version

Board of Appeals


Board of Appeals



Applicant James E. Bristol, III and David B. Bristol, Trustees of Old Derby Nominee Trust
and Owner: 37 Derby Street, Suite 4B
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 306 Whiting Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 44197, Page 210
Plan Reference: Plan entitled, "Site Plan, 306 Whiting St, Hingham, MA," prepared by CHA, 301 Accord Park Drive, Norwell, MA , dated August 12, 2014, Sheet C-1 and an unstamped, undated floor plan for Weathervane Golf Academy received by the Board on September 9, 2014


This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of James E. Bristol, III and David B. Bristol, Trustees of Old Derby Nominee Trust, for a Modification of a Use Variance from §III-A of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to amend the uses and related plan details approved by the Board on November 19, 1997. The request includes a reallocation of permitted uses, reconfiguration of seasonal patio and outdoor seating, and construction of a 1200 SF addition for storage related to the continued operation of a golf practice and learning facility with a restaurant and retail store at 306 Whiting Street in the Office Park and South Hingham Development Overlay District.

The Zoning Board of Appeals opened the hearing on September 17, 2014 in the Hingham Town Hall at 210 Central Street. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, Joseph M. Fisher, and Joseph Freeman. The Applicant was represented by Jeffery A. Tocchio, Esq., James Bristol, III, and Gabe Crocker, CHA Consulting

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.

On November 19, 1997, the Board granted with conditions Variances from Sections III-A, 4.13, 4.9A, 4.9O and 4.1 of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (in effect at the time) to construct a golf practice and learning facility with a restaurant and retail store, a copy of which was recorded with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds in Book 16248, Page 207 (the "Variance Decision"). At the time of the Board's issuance of the Variance Decision, the Property was located in Residential District C. The Property is presently located in the Office Park and South Hingham Development Overlay Districts.

Under the Variance Decision, the Board issued findings that the Property had been operated as a quarry since at least 1811, and possibly as far back as 1687; a use at the Property that became nonconforming when the Town adopted the Zoning By-Law. The Board found that the Property contains numerous outcropping of ledge and depressions which result in an extreme variation in grade and slope, and that the soil conditions consisting mostly of ledge were unique to the Property. Based upon its findings of unusual circumstances affecting the Property, the Board found that the statutory factors for award of variances had been met.

Pursuant to the Variance Decision, a Final Site Plan was submitted to the Board, on March 17, 1998. The facilities at the Property were built in accordance with the Final Site Plan. The Property operated as the "Fore Seasons Golf Practice and Learning Center", a golf practice and learning facility with a restaurant and retail store, by a tenant of Eastern Quarries, Inc., the previous owner of the Property.

In April of this year, the Applicant purchased the Property from Eastern Quarries with the intent of improving the condition of the Property and operating the golf training center under the "Weathervane Golf" brand, as the "Weathervane Golf Academy". The Applicant is the developer and operator of the Weathervane Golf Club, a 3,000 yards/par 36 golf course at the Village of Weathervane, an active adult community located less than 5 miles away in Weymouth. The Applicant intends to operate the Golf Academy as the premier practice facility for area golfers, accessible to members of the public, individuals purchasing memberships at the Academy, and members of the Weathervane Golf Club. Since acquiring the Property, the Applicant has hired a golf professional to provide individual and group lessons and upgraded the facility with current technology.

As part of the proposed modifications of the Variance Decision, the Applicant seeks to: (i) reallocate the permitted uses within the existing building, (ii) reconfigure the seasonal patio and outdoor seating areas, and (iii) construct a 1,200 sq. ft. addition (one-story with walk-out basement) to the building for expansion of the storage/maintenance/operation of the facilities at the Property.
The Variance Decision included a Final Site Plan which identifies the external and internal uses within the approximately 5,800 sq. ft. building, in order to verify that requisite parking was provided for each identified use under the By-Law (in effect at the time). The internal building allocations apportion the following approximate area/space for the permitted uses: 4,200 sq. ft. for retail use; 800 sq. ft. (30 seats) for restaurant use; and 500 sq. ft. (20 seats) for classroom use. The Applicant seeks to amend the Variance Decision to reallocate these permitted interior uses, as follows: (i) retail space – 1,185 sq. ft.; (ii) restaurant space – 3,765 sq. ft.; (iii) office space – 330 sq. ft.; and (iv) golf simulators/training – 590 sq. ft. Correspondingly, the Applicant seeks approval to increase the size of the approved deck/patio from approximately 1,200 sq. ft. to 1,600 sq. ft., and to allow service of food and beverages within an identified outdoor area, as depicted in the referenced floor plan. In addition, the Applicant seeks to extend an existing wing of the building by 1,200 sq. ft. for storage/maintenance of the facilities at the Property.

The layout and use of the other external areas/uses of the Property, such as the driving range, practice holes and putting greens will otherwise remain unaltered, and the overall function and use of the Property for operation of a golf practice and learning facility with a restaurant and retail store, as permitted by the Variance Decision, remains the same. The Applicant presents that the proposed reallocation of the retail/restaurant use areas at the Property will reflect a better balance of the expected demand for such uses. The reduced retail space will offer a pro-shop and custom golf club fitting, and act as the operational/transactional point for the golf facilities. The proposed increase in the restaurant area will allow the Applicant to provide food services typical of a tavern situated in a golf clubhouse, rather than the limited fare prepared by the previous operators. The proposed reallocation of excess retail space to the previously permitted restaurant use is consistent with current zoning, which allows the operation of a restaurant and accessory retail use within the Office Park District/South Hingham Development Overlay District. The Applicant presented that the 96 off-street parking spaces currently exist on site, and further presented that requisite parking presently exists under the By-Law for the proposed mix of uses at the Property.

The Property was not previously located in the South Hingham Development Overlay District when the Variance Decision was issued in 1997, but it is currently located within the District. The existing Property and proposed improvements comply with the requirements of the District, as the Floor Area Ratio of the building with the proposed addition will be only 0.01 (7,070 sq. ft. / 1,237,540 sq. ft.) (up to 0.15 FAR allowed as of right), and the building height is less than 48'. In addition, the existing parking area is approximately 16± ft. to 26± ft. above the grade of Whiting Street, and no at-grade parking areas are visible at normal eye level from Whiting Street or from any point abutting a residential district that is less than 500 feet away. Existing evergreen trees, shrubs and wetlands are located between Whiting Street and the parking areas.

Finally, CHA Consulting prepared a Traffic Assessment, which concludes that Whiting Street and the existing driveway at Whiting Street has more than adequate capacity and sight distances to support the proposed uses.

Board members discussed the proposed modification, including the expected hours of operation. The Applicant indicated that the expected hours of operation would be between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Members discussed possible mitigation for potential noise impacts from use of the outdoor patio.

Following discussion, the Board determined that the proposed modifications to the Variance Decision, as reflected in the Plans and submissions, are consistent with the findings of facts made by the Board under the 1997 Variance Decision. Conditions related to topography, which affect the subject Property, but not the zoning district more generally, have not changed and the hardship that supported the original Variance remains. Moreover, the Board found that the proposed reallocation of uses is consistent with the Zoning By-Law and M.G.L. c. 40A, §10.

For the reasons set forth hereinabove, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested modification to the uses and related plan details approved by Use Variance on November 19, 1997, subject to the following conditions:

1. All work shall be completed in compliance with the approved plans and representations made during the hearing.
2. Within the outdoor patio area, new orders for food and/or liquor service shall not be taken after 9:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday or after 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Patrons shall vacate the patio by 10:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and by 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. After an initial period of operation not less than one season, the Board of Appeals may entertain a request to modify the service hours.
3. Any music originating from the outside patio shall be kept at a low level appropriate as background for pleasurable dining.
4. The Applicant shall submit a request to the Board, following one year of operation for the restaurant use, to review the project impacts at a public hearing.
5. All other relief, terms and conditions of the Use Variance granted by the Board on November 19, 1997 shall remain in full force and effect unless specifically modified by this Decision.

This Decision shall not become effective until (i) the Town Clerk as 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 if such an appeal has been filed, that it has been dismissed or denied, and that (ii): a copy thereof 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 Town of Hingham
Board of Appeals,

W. Tod McGrath, Chairman