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Applicant and        Perry South Shore Development, LLC
Property Owner    20 Winthrop Square
            Boston, MA  02110

Premises:        2 Pond Park Road
            Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:    Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 38590, Page 222
            Land Court Certificate of Title No. 114738, Document No. 664445,
            Book 573, Page 138

This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of Perry South Shore Development, LLC, (the “Applicant”), 20 Winthrop Square, Boston, MA for a Special Permit A1 under §V-B along with Variances from §V-B of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to install building and ground signs at the recently constructed medical office building at 2 Pond Park Road, (the “Property”) in the Industrial Park District.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on August 4, 2011 at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members: W. Tod McGrath, Chairman, Joseph M. Fisher and Joseph W. Freeman.  The Applicant was represented Attorney Jeffery Tocchio, together with Thomas Valeri of SignDesign, Inc., and the Owner’s representative William Constable.

This Property, which is approximately 6.3 acres, is located at the front of the South Shore Industrial Park and is bounded by Derby Street and the Southeast Expressway.  The Applicant has constructed a 73,839 square foot, 3-story medical office building, with 399 off-street parking spaces (the “Project”).  The medical office building was approved via a Special Permit issued by the Board of Appeals on April 6, 2010. 

The Applicant is proposing to erect two building signs, one 195 sq. ft. in area and one 136 sq. ft. in area, to be affixed above the third floor windows on the southerly façade facing Pond Park Road.  In addition, two exempted address identification signs (one at 8 sq. ft. and one at 104 sq. ft.), which read “2 Pond Park”, are proposed.  The building signs are proposed to be halo backlit behind opaque individual symbols, without light spill or glare emanating from the signs. 

The Applicant also proposes to locate a total of three (3) ground signs, one at each curb opening on Pond Park Road.  They will be comprised of one (1) Directory Sign, (60 sq. ft.) which will be 5’4” wide and 11’9-3/8” tall (thus exceeding the height limitation by 1’9-3/8”) at the curb opening closest to Derby Street, and two (2) Directional Signs, (19.5 sq. ft. each) which will identify a “Staff Entrance” and “Deliveries”.  The Directory Sign and Directional Signs are proposed to be setback 10’ from the existing vertical granite curbing; however, the signs will be setback only 1’ from the right of way line, thus requiring a Variance from the setback requirement of the Zoning By-Law.  The Applicant represented that the Project will generate approximately 1,810 new vehicle trips per day, which will access the Property via three curb openings. 

During the course of the public hearing the Applicant represented that the northern portion of the Pond Park Road frontage is improved with an extensive wall system, with elevated paved parking area and slope landscaping located at the Property corner of Derby Street and Pond Park Road.  The elevated area serves as the on-site private septic disposal area, and the wall is also designed as a septic system component which is capable of withstanding leachate break-out.  The entrance onto Pond Park Road from Derby Street is a divided boulevard, with extensive ledge outcroppings in the median divider.  According to the Applicant these topographical features are unique to the Property and are likely to present vehicular visibility challenges to first-time visitors to the Property.  The Applicant, and the medical-provider tenants, seeks to direct visitors to the building to the northern most parking area, adjacent to the building front entrance.  Delivery and employee access and parking is concentrated at the south side of the building, to prevent crowding and conflicts with patient parking needs.  Early day-surgery appointments will require patients to arrive at the property in darkness during the winter months.

The Board and the Applicant discussed the two building signs first and the Board determined that the size of the signs met the requirement under the Zoning By-Law (which allows for one parallel building sign not exceeding 10% of the wall area) and relief was needed for the total number of signs only.  The Board also agreed with the Applicant’s assertion that the two address signs are exempt.  The building signs, excluding the address signs, comprise only 5% of the wall area to which they will be affixed on the building, and that figure rises to only 6% if the address signs were to be included in the calculation.  The type of lighting for the building signs proposed by the Applicant is the same type of lighting previously approved by the Board of Appeals for both the Derby Street Shoppes and The Launch at Hingham Shipyard.

The Board and the Applicant subsequently discussed the three (3) ground signs.  The Applicant represented that the proposed signs are designed to promote and allow the safe and efficient flow of patient vehicles, employee vehicles and delivery vehicles, and to minimize traffic conflicts in the main parking area.  The Applicant also represented that the signs are proportional to the scale of the building design, and that the ground signs are proposed to be located a similar distance from the road travel way as other existing ground signs within the adjacent South Shore Park complex.  Evidence was also presented that the total ground signage proposed is only 23% of the signage allowed under the Zoning By-Law in the Industrial District.  Also, the Board brought to the Applicant’s attention that the directory sign plan submitted with the Application referenced internal illumination.  The Applicant stated they did not authorize this detail, and has not sought relief to allow for internal sign illumination, which is prohibited under the Zoning By-Law.

Based on the information submitted and received at the hearing, and on other information available to the Board, the Board made the following findings:

The site is unique topographically, in that the junction of Derby Street and Pond Park Road is dominated by an elevated wall, exposed ledge and a divided boulevard layout, and the patient entrance is located across the street from the entry travel lane.  The final layout of the medical office building and parking area was dictated by these topographic constraints, and the need to site the private wastewater septic system, with attendant elevation requirements and solutions both distant from conservation resources and meeting the requirements of the local Board of Health Regulations and Title V.  While the Property has nearly 1,800 linear feet of frontage, the useable frontage is actually quite constrained to the area most impacted by these topographic features.

As a result of the unique conditions referenced above, strict adherence to the letter of the Zoning By-Law would result in substantial hardship to the Applicant, patients and the community.   The hardships that would result from this insufficient signage include inadequate identification and notification of the patient entrance, which would likely result in unsafe motorist distraction, diversion of traffic further into the South Shore Park, as well as the generation of additional, circuitous, vehicular traffic. 

The Applicant may have sought to erect significant areas of ground signage as of right to ensure delivery of directory and directional information.  However, the Applicant has elected to seek Variances to allow for the erection of efficient signage which would compliment both the Property and the streetscape.  Strict adherence to the Zoning By-Law would result in a directory sign erected of greater width and area, as well as the siting of larger directional signs approximately 20’ distant from the face of the curb on Pond Park Road.  The Variances requested will allow for the erection of a directory sign only 40% of the area allowed, less than 2’ over the 10’ height limitation, as well as the placement of the three (3) signs set back 1’ from the property frontage, yet set back 10’ from the granite curb at the edge of the travel way.  As such, the Variances requested will allow for the use of significantly less overall signage area; however, the reduced areas are expected to be sufficient to promote the safe and efficient flow of patient vehicles, employee vehicles and delivery vehicles, and the minimization of traffic conflicts in the main parking area.

Special Permit A1:
We have determined that the signage program, which includes one 195 sq. ft. building sign, one 136 sq. ft. building sign, together with one 60sq. ft. directory ground sign and two 19.5 sq. ft. directional ground signs are:
1.    in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law;
2.    comply with the applicable purposes and standards of the Zoning By-Law;
3.    are in an appropriate location for the operation of the proposed medical office use;
4.    will create positive impacts;
5.    will create no hazardous impacts to vehicles or pedestrians;
6.    is supported by appropriate facilities; and
7.    will meet all accepted design standards.

At the conclusion of the public hearing the Board of Appeals unanimously voted the following:

1.    GRANT a Special Permit A1 under §V-B to locate two (2) halo-lit building signs, one (1) 195sq. ft. in area and one (1) 136sq. ft. in area, to be affixed above the third floor windows southerly façade facing Pond Park Road;
2.    GRANT a Variance from §V-B to allow for a reduced one (1) foot setback for each of the three (3) ground signs; and
3.    GRANT a Variance from §V-B to allow for the construction of a directory sign in excess of 10’ in height with the condition any change in the dimensions of the directory sign must be presented to the Zoning Administrator for determination as to whether such change constitutes a minor change, which may be approved by the agent, or a significant change, which must be presented to and approved by the Board of Appeals.

Other conditions include:
•    No signs are allowed to be internally illuminated
•    Any future addition of signs at the Property following opening and operations shall be presented to the Board of Appeals as a request for modification of this Special Permit.

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 Board of Appeals,

Joseph W. Freeman        

August 26, 2011