View Other Items in this Archive | View All Archives | Printable Version

Board of Appeals



Applicant: Comella's Restaurant
207 Lincoln Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Owner: Anchor Plaza Realty Trust
134 East Howard Street
Quincy, MA 02169

Premises: 207 Lincoln Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 22660 Page 46 and
Certificate of Title No. 101847 issued by the Plymouth County Registry District of the Land Court

Plan References: Proposed plan set prepared by SignArt, Inc., 60 Sharon Street, Malden, MA, dated June 15, 2016 (8 Sheets) and technical data sheets from HTM Lighting, 6420 Benjamin Road, Tampa, FL (3 Sheets)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Comella's Restaurant (the "Applicant") for a Special Permit A1 under § V-B of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to install a 47 SF parallel building sign at 207 Lincoln Street in Business District B.

On May 18, 2016, the Board of Appeals opened concurrent hearings on applications from Comella's Restaurant for a Special Permit A1 to install a 47 SF parallel building sign and a Variance from § V-B of the Zoning By-Law to internally illuminate the building signage. During the initial hearing, members of both the Board and the public expressed opposition to the proposed internal illumination. The Applicant withdrew the variance request in response, which the Board granted with prejudice. A subsequent public hearing to consider the Special Permit application was held on June 15, 2016.

The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Chairman, and Joseph W. Freeman and associate member Jim Blakey. The Applicant was represented by Ed Spinney from SignArt, Inc., Matt Comella and J.P. Comella. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit A1 allowing a 47 SF primary building sign at 207 Lincoln Street in Business District B.

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 8,572 SF located on the northerly side of Lincoln Street (Route 3A) and within a multi-tenant shopping plaza. This specific parcel was previously improved by a restaurant building. Comella's Homemade Italian Food recently located in the building vacated by another restaurant.

The applicant seeks relief to maintain a building sign that was issued a permit in error. After the signage was installed, an abutter filed a complaint. The Building Commissioner issued a violation notice on March 18, 2016, informing the applicant that the signs must either be removed or relief attained from the Zoning Board.

The specific zoning issues initially related both to the lighting source and size of the principal sign. The Applicant turned off the internal illumination shortly before the initial hearing and subsequently withdrew the variance application without prejudice. The front building sign also exceeds the maximum size allowable by building permit, though it is permissible by Special Permit A1. The Schedule of Sign Regulations under Section V-B of the By-Law authorizes the Board to permit building signs of between 30 SF and 60 SF by Special Permit. The proposed building sign on the front elevation falls in the approximate middle of this range at 47 SF in size.

While the property is located in a business district, a neighborhood is located immediately across the street and in a residential district. A number of written comments submitted to the Board suggested that a 47 SF primary building sign would negatively affect this residential neighborhood. One abutter suggested that the Comella's location, which is closer to the roadway than other businesses within the plaza, would not require a larger than by-right sign. He pointed to a similar take-out restaurant, Crow Point Pizzeria, in a nearby shopping center that displays by-right signage. Members noted that Crow Point's front facade includes a Palladian window that would preclude installation of signage similar to Comella's. The Board also acknowledged that the volume and speed of traffic on Lincoln Street (Rt. 3A), combined with the curvature of the roadway approaching Anchor Plaza, supported the need for signs which are readily visible and readable for passing motorists.


Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, the Board found that:

a. The proposed use will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law, for the following reasons: The restaurant use and building signage will be in harmony with the general purpose of the By-Law. The front wall sign is allowed by special permit and will adequately identify for potential customers of the allowed restaurant use within a business district.

b. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of this By-Law, for the following reasons: The front wall sign complies with the maximum size, height, and location requirements specified in § V-B of the By-Law.

c. The specific site is an appropriate location for such use, structure, or condition, compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area, for the following reasons:
The front wall sign is appropriately scaled to the building facade and the design is compatible with the surrounding businesses.

d. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or potential adverse impacts will be mitigated, for the following reasons: Positive impacts include increased visibility for the business. There will be no adverse impact associated with the proposed signs as modified to be externally illuminated.

e. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, for the following reasons: The building signs will improve business visibility for customers of the allowed restaurant use.

f. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use, for the following reasons: The wall signs were properly mounted to the building facade.

g. The proposed Project meets accepted design standards and criteria for the functional design of facilities, structures, stormwater management, and site construction, for the following reasons: Not applicable.


Upon a motion made by Joseph W. Freeman and seconded by Jim Blakey, the Board voted unanimously to APPROVE the request for a Special Permit A1 under § V-B of the By-Law, allowing a 47 SF parallel building sign at 207 Lincoln Street in Business District B, subject to the following conditions:

1. The Applicant shall maintain the sign in accordance with the approved plans and representations made during the hearing.

2. The Applicant shall turn off all signage lighting at 11:00 p.m. daily.

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
July 11, 2016