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Applicant and            Albert F. Bernatavicius and Julia W. Booth

Property Owner:     153 Leavitt Street

                                     Hingham, MA 02043


Premises:                    153 Leavitt Street

Hingham MA 02043


Title Reference:         Plymouth County Registry of Deeds

                                      Land Court Certificate of Title No. 89237, Book 0044, Page 6



This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of Albert F. Bernatavicius and Julia W. Booth (the “Applicants”) for a side yard setback Variance from §IV-A of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to expand the existing attached two-car garage to accommodate a new interior ramp for handicapped accessibility as part of the proposed renovations to the existing dwelling at 153 Leavitt Street (the “Property”) in Residence District C.


A public hearing was duly noticed and held on February 27, 2013 at the Town Hall before a panel consisting of regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Chairman, and Joseph W. Freeman and associate member David W. Anderson.  The Applicants were represented by Attorney Adam J. Brodsky of Drohan Tocchio & Morgan, P.C.



The Property contains approximately one acre of land and is irregularly shaped, i.e., it is “pie-shaped” with the lot wider at its frontage and narrower at its rear.  The Property slopes substantially downward from Leavitt Street, and there is an existing two-story single-family dwelling and attached two-car garage on the Property.  The existing dwelling contains approximately 2,024sq.ft. of living area, and the existing one-story garage is 22’4” x 22’4” and contains approximately 475sq.ft.  The interior width of the existing garage is 21’4”.  The foundation for the existing garage is slab on grade and the existing basement does not extend beneath the garage.  


The dwelling and garage are located where the Property narrows and meets the minimum front and side yard setbacks.  The dwelling is located approximately 50’ from Leavitt Street on the northeast front corner and approximately 20’ from side Property line on the southwesterly rear corner.  The dwelling and garage could not be located in any other position on the Property and comply with the dimensional requirements of the Zoning By-Law. 


Bordering vegetated wetlands are located at the rear of the Property and the existing dwelling is partially located within the 50’ buffer zone to the wetlands.  The Applicants will require an Order of Conditions from the Conservation Commission to construct the proposed project.  The Property is located within the Hingham Centre Historical District, and the Applicants obtained a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposed project on or about July 19, 2012.


The Applicants propose interior and exterior renovations to the existing dwelling in order to provide wheelchair accessibility to the home.  On the exterior, the Applicants propose the addition of a new front porch with an integrated ramp for a wheelchair.  The porch addition requires a 13.5sq.ft. projection into the front yard setback, and is permitted as of right under Section IV-C (7) of the Zoning By-Law.  The Applicants also propose to install a new elevator in the dwelling.  The elevator is depicted in the architectural plans.


With the application the Applicants submitted the following:

  • Undated photographs of the dwelling (5 pages)
  • Plot Plan (1 sheet) dated January 18, 2013 entitled Alternative A for 153 Leavitt Street prepared by Ross Engineering Company Inc., 683 Main Street, Norwell, MA stamped by Paul Joseph Mirabito, RLS
  • Plot Plan (1 sheet) dated January 18, 2013 entitled Alternative B for 153 Leavitt Street prepared by Ross Engineering Company Inc., 683 Main Street, Norwell, MA stamped by Paul Joseph Mirabito, RLS
  • Unstamped Plans (16 pages) dated January 16, 2013 prepared by Tiryaki Architectural Design, 21C South Main Street, Cohasset, MA entitled as follows: E1.0 Existing Basement Floor Plan; E1.1 Existing First Floor Plan; E1.2 Existing Second Floor Plan; E2.1 Existing Exterior Elevations; E2.2 Existing Exterior Elevations; A1.0 Alternative “A” & “B” Basement Floor Plan; A1.1 Alternative “A” First Floor Plan; A1.2 Alternative “A” Second Floor Plan; A2.1 Alternative “A” Exterior Elevations & Window/Door Schedule; A2.2 Alternative “A” Exterior Elevations; B1.1 Alternative “B” First Floor Plan; B1.2 Alternative “B” Second Floor Plan; B2.1 Alternative “B” Exterior Elevations & Window/Door Schedule and B2.2 Alternative “B” Exterior Elevations.



During the hearing the Applicants representative spoke to the proposal to expand the footprint of the existing garage to accommodate an interior wheelchair ramp and construct a second story. The second floor of the existing dwelling will extend over the new garage.  The foundation for the new garage will also be slab on grade.  The Applicants propose to construct a 28’4” x 29’11” garage with a footprint measuring approximately 770sq.ft.  The proposed interior width is 23’5” which is consistent with the width of a typical two-car garage.   This will result in the encroachment of the southwest corner of the proposed garage by a maximum of 4’4” into the required side yard setback.  The expansion of the garage footprint will allow for an interior wheelchair ramp, designed using the ADA as a model guideline, but not necessarily adhering to every single ADA requirement as the Property is a private, single-family dwelling.  The ramp is proposed to have a clear width of 42” with a slope of 1:12 or 8.3%.  If the ramp were designed to strictly comply with the ADA requirements, the ramp/landing dimensions would require a larger garage footprint.  The Applicant’s representative stated that the structure cannot accommodate a new interior wheelchair ramp without the proposed expansion of the garage footprint.



The Board voted unanimously to GRANT the VARIANCE. In granting the requested relief, the Board found that owing to circumstances relating to the soil conditions, shape or topography which especially affect the premises, but do not affect generally the zoning district in which the premises are located, a literal enforcement of the Zoning By-Law would involve substantial hardship to the Applicant.


The photographs, plans and presentation establish that the Property is affected negatively by existing shape and topographic conditions, which, combined with wetlands resources, are not generally found in the zoning district.   These unique features have resulted in the placement of the existing dwelling and garage on the only portion on the Property which allows compliance with the dimensional requirements of the Zoning By-Law and also maximizes the setback to the wetlands.  


The Board also determined that the requested Variance might be granted without detriment to the public good and without substantially derogating from the intent or purpose of the Zoning By-Law.  The proposed dwelling and garage will remain in use as a single-family residence, will not detract from the neighborhood, and will be consistent with other residences in the immediate neighborhood and will not substantially impose on the abutting property.  This is reflected by the Historic Districts Commission’s issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness for the project.


The Variance is granted subject the following conditions:


  1. The expansion of the existing attached two-car garage is to be constructed in substantial accordance with the plans entitled Alternative “A” as submitted with the application and the representations made at the public hearing. 
  2. Encroachment into the side yard setback  to be no more than 4’4”


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 County 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 Zoning Board of Appeals,




Joseph W. Freeman

March 11, 2013