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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner:   Janice B. McPhillips and Brian H. McPhillips
34 Franklin Rodgers Road
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises:              17 Surry Road
Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference:     Plymouth County Registry District of Deeds Book 44670 Page 254

Plan References:   Plans entitled, "Existing Conditions Plan, 17 Surry Road - Hingham," prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated November 6, 2014, and plan set entitled, "Renovations and Additions to Owners Home," including Site Plan (Drawing C100) and Elevations (Drawing AE02), prepared by Design/Build LLC, 922 Cedar Grove Road, Broomall, PA, dated December 2, 2015 and August 31, 2015 respectively.


This matter came before the Zoning Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Janice Brown and Brian Hugh McPhillips (collectively the "Applicant") for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to 1.) replace an existing detached garage with an attached garage with living space above, reducing the existing nonconformity from approximately 10’ to 11.85' where a 20' rear yard is required, and 2.) extend an existing covered porch located 13' from the front property line where a 50’ front yard setback is required at 17 Surry Road in Residence District C.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on January 20, 2016 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman, Joseph W. Freeman, and W. Tod McGrath. The Applicants were in attendance to represent the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief from the rear and front yard setback requirements 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 11,746 SF located on the south side of Surry Road. The lot is improved by a single-family residence, circa 1952, and a detached garage. The existing garage maintains a 10' rear yard setback where 20' is required. The proposed plan calls for demolition of this structure and construction of an addition, including an attached two car garage, and living space to the rear of the house on the second floor. This addition would reduce the existing rear yard nonconformity associated with the detached garage, but would still be located within the setback (11.85'). The project also includes construction of a covered porch along the front elevation and wrapping around to the westerly side facade, extending the existing 13.05' front yard setback where 50' is required.

During the hearing, the Applicant confirmed that use of the space above the garage would be limited to storage. She also clarified that the existing front porch, which was permitted by variance within the front setback, is not presently covered. She reviewed the proposed elevation plans as compared to the existing home. Members agreed that the covered porch in particular will improve the appearance of the home.

The Board discussed then discussed the front porch variance, issued in 1988, which permitted the location within the front yard setback. A condition of this permit reads, "The porch shall be constructed with an open decorative railing and shall never be roofed or otherwise enclosed." The background discussion implies that the Board was primarily concerned with massing associated with enclosed porches; however, the wording of the condition seems to limit the proposed addition of a roof above the structure. A member indicated that the proposed plan is consistent with the intent.

Members then reviewed the plan. They agreed that there is no other location on the property to locate the garage. It is modest in size because it is only 21'x21'. Members agreed that the improvements in the rear are acceptable.

During the hearing, the Applicant submitted letters of support for the project from four abutters. A member of the audience also commented on the plan, noting that the proposed attached garage and covered porch would enhance the existing streetscape.


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

1. Circumstances related to soil, shape, or topography especially affect the land or structures in question: The property is affected by large areas of ledge, particularly on the westerly side. Additionally, the onsite topography varies significantly from front (el. 88) to back (el. 99). These features, in combination with the existing improvements and onsite wastewater disposal system, especially affect the subject property and not more generally the zoning district.

2. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. Literal enforcement would require the Applicant to remove significant areas of ledge or relocate the existing septic system, either of which would be uneconomic. Absent relief the Applicant would not be able to improve the property in a manner consistent with others in the neighborhood, negatively affecting the overall use and enjoyment of the property.

3. A Variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The project will improve the appearance of the dwelling, in a manner consistent with others in the neighborhood. There will be no adverse effect on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good resulting from the proposed structure.

4. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law. The proposed plan modestly improves an existing rear yard nonconformity and extends, but does not increase, a permitted front yard nonconformity. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by W. Tod McGrath and seconded by Joseph W. Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law to 1.) replace an existing detached garage with an attached garage, reducing the existing nonconformity from approximately 10’ to 11.85' where a 20' rear yard is required, and 2.) to add a cover to and extend an existing porch located 13' from the front property line where a 50’ front yard setback is required at 17 Surry Road in Residence District C.

The Variance is granted subject the following condition:

1. The construction shall be completed in accordance with the above-referenced plans, and representations made during the public hearing.

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 Zoning Board of Appeals,

Joseph W. Freeman
February 25, 2016