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Board of Appeals


Board of Appeals


Applicant and Matthew and Sarah Kuzniar
Property Owner: 23 Downing Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 23 Downing Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 41653, Page 305

Plan References: Site plan entitled, "Additional As-Built 23 Downing Street, Hingham," prepared by CCR Associates, 40 Mears Avenue, Quincy, MA, dated July 21, 2004, as revised and received by the Board on October 8, 2014, and Elevation and Framing Plans, prepared by Genesis Design Associates, 120 Breedens Lane, Revere, MA, dated September 18, 2013, Drawings A301- A304 and A401.


This matter came before the Zoning Board of Appeals on the application Matthew and Sarah Kuzniar for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to construct a portico within the front yard setback at 23 Downing Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on October 15, 2014 at Hingham Town Hall before a panel consisting of regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, and Joseph M. Fisher and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant, Sarah Kuzniar, and her contractor, Bob Shepard, appeared to present the application.


The subject property consists of approximately 6,934 SF, improved by a single family dwelling. The preexisting nonconforming structure is located within the required front yard setback at approximately 17.8' from Downing Street. The front door is presently accessed via a set of stairs and deck that projects an additional 4.6' into the setback (4.6' x 8.25', or 37.95 SF). This projection exceeds the 30 SF maximum allowed under Section IV-C, 7. The proposed plan calls for an increase in the size of this projection to 98 SF (7' x 14'). The new entry would be located 10.9' from the front property line. The proposed steps would be covered with a roof supported by two columns, but construction would not provide any additional living space to the residence.

The Applicant indicated that the portico would cover the front door from the weather, but also improve the aesthetics of the property. She explained that there are seventeen houses on Downing Street. The subject property is one of just four that does not presently have a front covered porch or enclosed entryway. She added that existing conditions, including the onsite sewage disposal system, attached garage, and front door, limit location of the proposed entryway. Mr. Shepherd noted that the front yard slopes away from the house toward the street, requiring installation of steps to access the front door.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Marion Romania, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested front yard setback Variance to construct a (14' x 7') portico at 23 Downing Street. In granting the requested relief, the Board found that:

1. Circumstances relating to the property's soil shape and topography affect the subject property and not generally the zoning district. The front yard slopes away from the house toward the necessitating construction of steps to access the front door. The portico was sized to accommodate the door swing when entering the house;
2. A literal enforcement of the Zoning By-Law would involve substantial hardship. There is no other location on the lot to construct the portico by-right and achieve its intended purpose of providing access to the front door;
3. The requested relief may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The proposed portico is in keeping with the character of the surrounding neighborhood; and
4. The relief may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of the Zoning By-Law. The dimensional transgression is minor.

The Variance is granted subject the following condition:

1. The addition shall be constructed in accordance with the plans submitted with the application and representations made during the public hearing.

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 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 Zoning Board of Appeals,

W. Tod McGrath, Chair