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Board of Appeals



Owner/Applicant: Evan Sheehan and Courtney A. Orwig
1036 Main Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 1036 Main Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 35861, Page 253

Plan Reference: Site plans entitled, "Existing Conditions and Renovation Site Proposed," prepared by ORWIG Associates, 9 South Pasture Lane, Duxbury, MA, dated December 16, 2014 and revised plans filed March 23, 2015 showing supplemental plantings through February 17, 2015, and architectural drawings entitled, "Hingham Historic Districts Commission Review Set," prepared by Tiryaki Architectural Design, Inc., 21 South Main Street, Cohasset, MA, dated January 15, 2015, revised February 12, 2015, Drawings AG2.1 - AG2.4

This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application from Evan Sheehan and Courtney Orwig (collectively, the "Applicant") for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to construct a detached two car garage 3' from the side property line where a 20’ setback is required at 1036 Main Street in Residence District B.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on March 18, 2015, at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. A continued session was held on March 25, 2015. The Board panel consisted of its regular members W. Tod McGrath, Chair, Joseph M. Fisher and Joseph W. Freeman. The Applicant and the project landscape architect, Daniel C. Orwig, RLA, appeared to present the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant a Variance from the side yard setback requirement under § IV-A of the By-Law.

Throughout its deliberations, the Board has been mindful of the statements of the Applicant and the comments of the general public, all as made or received at the public hearing.

The subject property consists of approximately 41,250 SF and includes a single-family dwelling that sits more than 175' back from the street. The structure was built in 1843 and served as a school and fire house before conversion to residential use in 1946.

The Applicant seeks relief to locate a detached accessory structure 3' from the southerly side property line, in an area presently occupied by driveway and surface parking. Since the existing principal structure is positioned more than 175' from the street frontage, the proposed garage will be located to the front of the residence. Significant landscaping will be added to minimize the visual impact of the structure on abutters and the public traveling on Main Street.

During the hearing, the Applicant went through a detailed analysis of the property to demonstrate to the Board that there were no reasonably available options to construct a garage elsewhere on the lot. The lot is significantly narrower than it is deep. Components of the existing onsite wastewater disposal system are located to the immediate south of the single-family dwelling. These factors in combination limit placement of the proposed garage in the back yard, whereas the proposed location allows sufficient room between the garage and house for equipment to access and maintain the septic system.

The property is located in the Liberty Plan Historic District. As such, the Historic Districts Commission reviewed the plans and issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposed garage on February 18, 2015. Several abutters attended the Board's hearings and expressed concern about the impact of the proposed structure on the historic property and the larger Historic District. Board Members noted in response that the Zoning By-Law does not include historic character as a protected value. The Board indicated that the appropriate authority to hear these concerns would be the Commission. During the hearing, the direct abutter to the south expressed support for the project. The direct abutter to the north indicated that she preferred the proposed location to other by-right alternatives to the front of the dwelling.

Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and other information available to the Board, the Board has determined that:

a. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography especially affecting the land but not affecting generally the zoning district. The Property is narrow in width and especially deep. The pre-existing nonconforming dwelling is sited more than 175' from the street frontage, where others in the area are positioned just 30-50' from the street. The onsite septic system is located to the immediate south of the dwelling. These factors in combination limit location of the accessory structure to the rear of the dwelling.

b. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. The requested relief will allow the Applicant to construct a garage in a manner similar to others in the neighborhood. If relief is not granted, the Applicant would have to relocate the existing septic system and extend the existing driveway another 200' to locate a garage to the rear of the dwelling. This would result in greater disturbance to the property and significant financial hardship. Alternately, the Applicant could locate the structure in the middle of the front yard; however, the Applicant testified that this location would be out of character with the neighborhood and would negatively affect the utility and value of the residence. A grant of a Variance in this instance will allow for a reasonable use that is entirely consistent with a single family use in the Residence B Zoning District;

c. A variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good.
The proposed project will not create any noise, traffic or result in other similar negative impacts. In fact, the proposed accessory structure will be constructed in an area presently used for surface parking. The garage design is consistent with others in the surrounding neighborhood and will be screened by installation of landscaping materials. There will be no adverse effects or harm to the public good; and

d. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The proposed garage is an allowed accessory use of the property and the proposed location partially within the side yard setback will prevent the overcrowding of structures in the rear portion of the lot. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.

Upon a motion made by Joseph W. Freeman and seconded by Joseph M. Fisher, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested side yard setback, authorizing construction of a detached two car garage 3' from the side property line where a 20’ setback is required at 1036 Main Street in Residence District B, subject to the following conditions:

1. The construction shall be completed in a manner consistent with the plans submitted and representations made during the hearing

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 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,

W. Tod McGrath, Chair
April 27, 2015