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Applicant:        Jeffrey A. and Susan P. Johnson
                         2 Brewster Rd.            
                         Hingham, MA  02043   

Premises:        190 Downer Avenue           
                         Hingham, MA  02043

Title Reference:    Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 42884, Page 191

Plan Reference:    Exhibit A - "Site Plan of Land," prepared by Keefe Associates, 281 South River Road, Marshfield, MA, dated March 4, 2013 and Exhibit B - enlarged                 portion of the Site Plan showing driveway location


This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of Jeffrey A. and Susan P. Johnson (“Applicants”)  for a  Special Permit A1 under §III-C, 4.e. of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to install a driveway to serve a proposed single family dwelling at 190 DOWNER AVENUE, a portion of which is within the Downer Avenue right-of-way and the Flood Plain and Watershed Protection District. 

This application was submitted as an amendment to and the hearing was held concurrently with a previously filed Administrative Appeal and/or Variances of §IV-A of the Zoning By-Law, for the proposed single family dwelling at the same location.

The Zoning Board of Appeals opened the hearing on the Special Permit A1 application on October 28, 2013 in the Hingham Town Hall at 210 Central Street.  The Board of Appeals panel consisted of regular members Joseph Freeman, Chairman and W. Tod McGrath and alternate member Robyn Maguire. The Applicant was represented by Daniel A. Brewer, Esq. and architect Bonnie Hobbs. The Applicants were also in attendance.

The Town's legal counsel, Attorney Susan Murphy, also attended the hearings.


The Applicants own an undeveloped, nonconforming lot located at 190 Downer Avenue (“Premises”) consisting of 11,842 SF with 100' of frontage. On October 28, 2013, the Zoning Board voted unanimously to reverse a determination of the Building Commissioner, dated July 2, 2013, that the lot was not grandfathered. After extensive review of the deeds and local exemptions contained in prior versions of the Hingham Zoning By-Law, the Board found that the Premises qualifies as an exempted lot and can be developed for single-family residential use.

The Board then turned to the new application for a Special Permit A1 to install a portion of a driveway serving the proposed dwelling in a floodplain (FEMA flood zone VE (elevation 15)). Attorney Brewer said that DPW Superintendent, Randy Sylvester, had acknowledged the application and authorized its filing.  The Johnsons will seek a street opening permit from DPW before they proceed with construction. The Johnsons have already obtained a Negative Determination of Applicability from the Hingham Conservation Commission, which requires that erosion controls be installed and approved by the Conservation Officer prior to any work activity.  A Board member noted out that this is a coastal location and requirements for compensatory flood storage therefore do not apply.

The Chair then opened the hearing for public comment. Ellie Parriseault, 16 Marion St, questioned whether the Town would peer review the plan because of the steep slopes on the site. Attorney Murphy replied that Site Plan Review, conducted by the Planning Board, would be required if the land disturbance is greater than 2500 SF in areas with slopes greater than 10%. More detailed construction plans will be reviewed after a building permit application is filed and it will be determined at that time whether the project exceeds those thresholds. If so, then the Planning Board may elect to have the plans peer reviewed.

The Board then reviewed the required Findings as follows:
1.    The use of the site is in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law. The proposed use of the Premises is residence, and the relief is required to provide access and utilities to that use.
2.    The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant sections of the Zoning By-Law. Driveways are permitted in residence districts within the Floodplain and Watershed Protection District where alternative means of access are impractical.
3.    The site is an appropriate location for residential use and is compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
4.    The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts and potential adverse impacts will be mitigated. Erosion control measures will be installed in accordance with the Conservation Commission's Negative Determination of Applicability. Site Plan Review will be required if more than 2500 SF of slopes in excess of 10% are affected by the proposed construction.
5.    There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians created by the installation of the driveway. The DPW will review the proposed construction through its Street Opening Permit Process to ensure that work is conducted in a safe manner within the right-of-way.
6.    The project meets accepted design standards and criteria for functional design.


For the reasons set forth hereinabove, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Special Permit A1 to construct a portion of the driveway serving the proposed dwelling at 190 Downer Avenue within the Floodplain and Watershed Protection District in accordance with Section III-C, 4.e. of the Hingham Zoning By-Law.

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,

                        Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman       
                        January 7, 2014