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Board of Appeals



Owner/Applicant: Sandra Mazzola Agent: Brandon Ruotolo, Esq. VMP Realty, LLC David Sisson Architecture One Repton Place, Unit 1431 238 5th Street Watertown, MA 02472 Providence, RI 02906

Property: 13 Marsh Ave
Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 46312, Page 251

Plan Reference: Plans entitled, "Existing Conditions Plan of Land in the Town of Hingham at # 13 Marsh Street" and "Proposed Reconstruction Plan of Land in the Town of Hingham at # 13 Marsh Street," prepared by Terra Nova Survey Consultants, 1685 South Street, Bridgewater, MA, respectively dated June 12, 2015 and August 29, 2015, each revised through February 2, 2016 and architectural plan set, entitled, "13 Marsh St.," prepared by David Sisson Architecture PC, 238 5th Street, Providence, RI, dated August 31, 2015, Drawings A4.0-A4.4 and A5.0-A5.4


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Sandra Mazzola (the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) to replace a single-story dwelling with a two-story dwelling that exceeds the maximum height requirements and reconstruct and extend a nonconforming detached garage within 6.69' of the front property line where 15' is required at 13 Marsh Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on March 16, 2016, at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Chairman, Joseph W. Freeman, and Robyn S. Maguire. Attorney Brandon Ruotolo represented the Applicant during the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variances from the maximum height and minimum 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 11,024 SF located on the south side of Marsh Street. The property is improved by a single-family dwelling and detached, single-car garage, both of which sit askew on the lot due to a curved front property line. There are areas of exposed ledge; the onsite topography varies dramatically. The southwest corner of the lot sits at el. 20 and the northwest corner is at el. 23; in between, grades rise approximately 10-15' to el. 38 in the easterly side yard.

The proposed plan calls for reconstruction of both existing structures – the dwelling and the garage. The proposed new structures would each be reoriented on the lot. The reconstructed single-family dwelling would extend the nonconforming westerly side yard setback of 13.31' that is associated with a single point of the existing home. The structure's proposed footprint, roughly measured as 64' in length by 30' in width, is permitted by right under the so-called Hatfield exemption under Section III-I, 2. of the By-Law. However, the proposed height of the residence would require relief. As designed, the new construction would exceed the maximum height of 35' as measured from the grade plane to the peak of the roof by 3.61'. The proposed structure also exceeds the maximum 40' height measured from the intersection between the finished grade and the perimeter wall at its lowest point by 4.21'.

The new two-car (25.88' x 30.21') garage would be accessed from the side as opposed to the front elevation. A relatively small portion of the proposed structure (~51 SF) would be located within the required side yard setback. Significantly more of the proposed structure would be located within the required front yard setback, though the proposed plan would not reduce the minimum linear measurement of the nonconforming front setback as measured to the existing single-car garage.

During the hearing, abutters to the proposed project expressed general concern about the increasing number of teardowns in the Crow Point neighborhood and the resulting size of new construction in relation to the existing lot sizes. Members of the public also suggested that the proximity of the proposed garage to the street may create a traffic hazard. Attorney Ruotolo explained that the plan to reorient the garage and relocate its access from the front to the side elevation was intended to improve its safety. Vehicles exiting the structure would no longer be required to back out directly into the street. Neighbors also asked whether the height of the structure could be decreased by eliminating some portion of the attic area. Attorney Ruotolo noted that the proposed residence would not include a basement because of the presence of ledge on site; therefore, all mechanical equipment would need to be located in the attic.

In light of the testimony received during the hearing, the Board committed to reviewing the statutory findings and conditioning its decision in an effort to minimize impacts on the neighborhood.


Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members at the meeting, 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.
There are significant areas of exposed ledge on the property and onsite topography varies dramatically. The southwest corner of the lot sits at el. 20 and the northwest corner is at el. 23; in between, grades rise approximately 10-15' to el. 38 in the easterly side yard. The front of the property is also affected by an unusual shape due to the curvature of Marsh Street. The combination of these soil conditions, topography, and lot shape are not generally found in the surrounding neighborhood or Residence District A more generally.

b. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. A literal enforcement of maximum height requirements of the By-Law would result in significant earthwork, creating a hardship for the Applicant as well as the neighborhood due to the amount of blasting that would take plan to lower the existing grades. Literal enforcement of the setback requirements related to the proposed garage would result in a structure that would be nonfunctional due to the curvature of the front property line, thereby creating a substantial hardship for the Applicant. A grant of the requested relief will allow for a reasonable use that is entirely consistent with a single-family use in the Residence A 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. The design of the proposed structures is consistent with the character of the neighborhood and other single family residential and accessory uses in the Residence A Zoning District. Adverse effects on the neighborhood will be mitigated through compliance with conditions contained herein.

d. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The area of the proposed dwelling that exceeds the permissible height limitation is modest in size and the structure will otherwise conform to the maximum number of stories allowed. The proposed garage will improve access to an existing nonconforming garage and as a result will also improve traffic safety on the street. The proposed structures will otherwise contain allowed uses that in no way derogate from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Robyn S. Maguire and seconded by Joseph W. Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to grant Variances from § IV-A of the By-Law approving construction of a two-story dwelling exceeding maximum height requirements and reconstruction and extension of a nonconforming detached garage within required side and front yard setbacks at 13 Marsh Street in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:

1. The Applicant shall construct the single-family dwelling in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearings before the Board such that the maximum height will not exceed 38.61' measured from grade plane or 44.21' measured from the intersection between the finished grade and the lowest point of the perimeter wall.

2. The Applicant shall construct the garage in a manner consistent with the approved plans as modified by the representations made at the hearings before the Board as follows:

a. the resulting footprint of the garage shall be no greater than 25.88' x 30.21'; and
b. the garage shall be located no closer than 14.04' to the westerly side property line or 6.69' from the front property line.
A revised plan addressing this condition shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator within 30 days of this Decision.

3. No work shall commence until a construction schedule has been submitted to the Zoning Administrator along with documentation that the schedule has been provided to noticed abutters.

4. Stormwater management systems shall be designed so that offsite post-development peak discharge rates do not exceed pre-development peak discharge rates.

5. The existing density of vegetation on the site shall be maintained. The Applicant shall include an existing conditions landscape plan, prepared by a Registered Landscape Architect, with an application for a Building Permit.

6. Construction shall comply with the Town of Hingham Noise Bylaw.

7. Use of the attic area shall be limited to storage and mechanical purposes. The attic may not be converted to habitable space unless further relief is obtained from the Board.

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,

Joseph M. Fisher
May 5, 2016