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Board of Appeals



Applicant: Joe Gragg and Maria Vazques-Gragg
142 Shipyard Drive
Hingham, MA 02043

Owner: Maria Alejandra Vazques-Gragg and Joseph F. Gragg
5 Smith Way
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 5 Smith Way, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds Book 47434, Page 161

Plan References: Existing conditions plan entitled, "As-built Septic Plan," prepared by McSweeney Associates, 150 Union Street, Hingham, MA, dated June 11, 2011 and an architectural plan set, including a proposed site plan and elevation plan, unsigned, undated, and consisting of 2 drawings


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Joe Gragg and Maria Vazques-Gragg (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and other such relief as necessary to expand an attached single car garage resulting in an 11’ side yard setback and 20’ front yard setback where 15’ and 25’ are respectively required at 5 Smith Way in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on October 19, 2016 at the Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph Freeman, Chairman, Robyn S. Maguire, and Joseph M. Fisher. The Applicant appeared to present the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief from the side and front yard setback requirements under § IV-A of the By-Law subject to the conditions contained herein.

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 0.5 acres of land located at the end of Smith Way. The lot is unusually shaped, with a narrow tail extending from the easterly rear of the lot. This tail is affected by both wetlands and floodplain according to the submitted plan. The property also slopes significantly from the front (el. 74) to the rear (el. 61).

The parcel was previously improved by a single-family dwelling (ca. 1950), including an attached single-car garage. This structure sits at an angle in relation to adjacent property lines.

The proposed plan would expand the existing attached garage into both the front and side yard setbacks; however, the area of incursion would be minimized in part due to the angled position of the structure on the lot. The location of the septic tank and leaching field in the front of the property, as well as the wetland area to the rear, limit alternative means expanding upon the existing undersized garage.


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

1. There are circumstances relating to soil conditions, shape or topography especially affecting the land but not affecting generally the zoning district. The Property was previously improved with a nonconforming single-family dwelling that is positioned at an angle on the lot. Onsite topography slopes from front to back such that the rear portion of the lot falls below the limits of 100 year flood elevation. Wetlands are also identified on submitted plans at the rear of the property. These circumstances in combination especially affect the lot and not generally the zoning district.

2. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. Physical, regulatory, and financial barriers exist based on these circumstances that preclude alternative location of an expanded garage. Literal enforcement of the By-Law would limit the Applicant from improving the Property in a manner consistent with others in the neighborhood and negatively affect the overall use and enjoyment of the Property. A grant of a Variance in this instance will allow for a reasonable use that is consistent with a single family use in the Residence A Zoning District.

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

4. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The requested relief is modest in nature, resulting in modest triangular-shaped incursions into the front and rear yard setbacks for corners of the garage expansion. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the intent of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Robyn S. Maguire, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to expand an attached single car garage resulting in an 11’ side yard setback and 20’ front yard setback where 15’ and 25’ are respectively required at 5 Smith Way in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:

1. The rights authorized by this Variance shall expire one year from the date this Decision is filed with the Town Clerk, unless exercised or extended in accordance with the terms of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 10.

2. The Applicant shall construct the Project in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearings before 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 W. Freeman
November 28, 2016