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TOWN OF HINGHAM
BOARD OF APPEALS
IN THE MATTER OF:
Applicant and PropertyMaureen P. and John P. Connolly
Owner:8 Grove Avenue
Premises:229 Lincoln Street
Deed Reference:Plymouth County Registry of Deeds
Book 5942, Page 339
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS:
This matter came before the Board of Appeals on the application of Maureen P. and John P. Connolly (the “Applicants”), 8 Grove Avenue, Hingham for a Variance from the maximum size requirement under §V-B of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary in order to replace the approximate 30 sq.ft. ground sign at Aisling Gallery, 229 Lincoln Street (the “Property”), in Business District B.
A public hearing was duly noticed and held on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at the Town Hall before a panel consisting of regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman, W. Tod McGrath and Joseph M. Fisher.
The Applicants represented themselves at the hearing.A few abutters and citizens appeared at the public hearing and expressed support for the Applicants proposed sign replacement.
The Applicants are the owners and operators of Aisling Gallery located on the Property at 229 Lincoln Street which has been the subject of previous zoning decisions. A site plan approval and Special Permit A2 parking waiver was granted by the Board on December 28, 1989.Following that decision, the Applicants erected a ground sign at the site.Due to a lack of understanding of the Zoning By-Law, the Applicants installed an expensive, hand painted 30 sq.ft. ground sign.The Zoning By-Law permits a ground sign of 15 sq.ft. as of right, and up to 24 sq.ft. with a Special Permit A1 issued by the Board of Appeals.No Special Permit was obtained.
In 1991 the Applicants applied for and were granted a Variance to maintain the current oversized ground sign with the condition that when the sign needs to be replaced or repainted, it will be brought into conformity with the Zoning By-Law.On June 5, 1996 a letter was sent to the Applicants by the Zoning Administrator stating that not only (a) had the sign been repainted at least once since the issuance of the 1991 decision but (b) a new sign had also been installed since the issuance of the 1991 decision.Both of these factors signify that the sign as it exists today is in violation of the 1991 decision and the Zoning By-Law.
On January 5, 2010 the Board received a letter from the Applicants requesting a minor modification to the December 17, 1991 Variance to allow a new sign to be placed over the front and back of the existing structure due to the fact that during a wind storm the front of the sign blew off and was damaged.At the close of the hearings on January 7, 2010 the Board of Appeals discussed the Applicants request for a minor modification and declined to grant the request, determining that due to numerous zoning violations the Applicants should either bring the size down to 15 sq.ft. as allowed under §V-B of the Zoning By-Law or apply to the Board of Appeals for the appropriate relief.
At the hearing Chairman Freeman, who sat on the Board of Appeals panel for the original 1991 Variance application and decision, recalled that there was an agreement at that time that because the Applicants sign was so costly to produce, the Board granted the relief with the understanding that when the sign needs to be replaced or repainted it will be brought into conformity with the Zoning By-Law.
The Applicants stated that reducing the size of the sign would be cost prohibitive as it would involve removing the present sign, installing new posts into cement and replacing the existing lighting.They are proposing to use the present frame and replace only the face of the sign.
The Applicants also stated the present sign has been in existence for 21 years, and although not compliant with the Zoning By-Law, there have never been comments or concerns with the overall size of the sign.The Applicants also pointed out that they are located on a very busy state roadway and it is important for their clients and customers to be able to identify their location in order not to create any traffic hazards.
Board members were all in agreement that the present sign should be brought into compliance with the by-law at some point in the near future.They were also understanding of the Applicants hardship of the cost involved in doing so.Therefore, based on the Applicants representation that they planned to retire from the gallery within the next five years, they agreed to allow the continued maintenance of the oversized sign, contingent upon removal of said sign when the business is either no longer under the current ownership or the building is no longer used as a gallery.
FINDINGS and DECISION:
The Board, having considered the evidence, determined that the sign is generally consistent with the use of the premises and character of the neighborhood, and is designed so as not to cause a nuisance or safety hazard.The Board also found the existing sign has not been detrimental to the neighborhood or general public.
After discussion and review the Board of Appeals voted unanimously to GRANT a modification to the existing Variance to allow for the repair of the sign with the following conditions:
1.The external illumination of the sign is to remain the same;
2.The size of the sign is to be no greater than what presently exists;
3.Continue the current provision in the existing Variance that the subsequent time the sign is replaced or repainted the sign shall be brought into compliance with the Zoning By-Law; and
4.Notwithstanding condition 3 above, no later than five (5) years from the date of this decision the sign is to be brought into compliance with the Zoning By-Law.
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 Board of Appeals,
Joseph W. Freeman
November 8, 2010