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Board of Appeals




Applicant/Owner:           Rebecca T. Flaherty
                                            PO Box 1283

                                                                                       North Falmouth, MA 02556


Premises:                            12 Whiton Avenue
                                              Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference:               Plymouth County Registry District of Deeds Book 47224 Page 217

Plan References:             Plans entitled, "Existing and Proposed Conditions Plan," prepared by Nantasket Survey Engineering, LLC, 46 Edgewater Road, Hull, MA, dated August 16, 2016 and revised through October 24, 2016 and architectural plans entitled "Proposed Floor Plans (Drawing A1.1)" and "Proposed Shed Floor Plans and Exterior Elevations (Drawing AG1.1)", prepared by Tiryaki Architectural Design, LLC, 21 S Main St, Cohasset, MA, respectively dated September 16, 2016 and October 20, 2016 



This matter came before the Zoning Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Rebecca T. Flaherty (the "Applicant") for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to reconstruct and alter the layout of an entry landing within the front yard setback, construct first and second story decks within the side yard setback, and reconstruct, enlarge, and convert an existing shed to an office within side and rear yard setbacks at 12 Whiton Avenue in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on November 16, 2016 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street.  The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman, Robyn S. Maguire, and Joseph M. Fisher. The Applicant and Applicant's Agent, Attorney Jeffrey A. Tocchio, Drohan Tocchio & Morgan, P.C., were in attendance to represent the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief from the 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 4,250 SF of land located on the northeast side of Whiton Avenue. The property is 50' wide at its frontage with a depth of 85', resulting in a narrow, rectangular shaped lot. The property is improved by a preexisting nonconforming 1-story, single-family dwelling (ca. 1925) and an existing shed (ca. 1940). The applicant recently received a building permit to remodel the principal structure, including a second story addition, under the provisions of the so-called Hatfield Amendment.

The variance request relates to both the attached and detached accessory structures. The proposed plan would reconstruct the existing front entry landing resulting in a 15.7' front yard setback where 15.9' would be permitted by right pursuant to the average front yard setback exemption under Section IV-B, 9. A landing and a double set of stairs would extend from the entry into the front yard setback an additional 4'-1.5", resulting in an 11.6' front setback and a 60 SF incursion. A first floor deck would also be constructed at the rear of the remodeled dwelling within the southerly side yard setback resulting in a 5.8' setback and 90 SF incursion. A new deck on the second story would then extend into the Southerly side yard setback, again maintaining the nonconforming setback associated with the single-family dwelling of approximately 5.7', and resulting in a 71 SF incursion. This second story deck would also extend into the northerly side yard setback resulting in a 10.7' setback or 34 SF incursion.

In the northwesterly corner of the property, the existing shed would be reconstructed, enlarged, and converted to a home office with a half bath and outdoor shower. The project would result in an additional 40 SF incursion; however, the nonconforming side yard setback would be modestly improved from 1.2' to 1.8' and the nonconforming rear yard setback would improve from 2.1' to 2.7'.

During the hearing, the Applicant submitted a letter of support for the project from direct abutters located to the south of the subject property.


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 lot is narrow in shape with just 50' of frontage along Whiton Avenue. The property was previously improved by a nonconforming single-family dwelling and detached accessory structure. The narrow lot shape, in combination with the particular location of the nonconforming structures, are circumstances that do not generally affect the neighborhood.

  1. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. The shape of the lot and location of the existing single-family dwelling relative to the existing shed limit the location of improvements similar to those proposed, which are allowed accessory residential uses. Absent relief, the Applicant would be prohibited from making an improvement to the property that is consistent with a single family use allowed within residential zoning districts.

  1. 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 proposed accessory structures would be consistent with other allowed residential uses in the district. There will be no adverse effects on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good.

  1. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law.  The proposed plan modestly improves rear and side yard nonconformities associated with the existing shed and extends, but does not increase, an existing front yard nonconformity. Relief will permit replacement and modest expansion of a nonconforming shed with an improved accessory structure and construction of a front landing and rear decks, which are allowed accessory structures in residential districts. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes 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 Zoning By-Law to reconstruct and alter the layout of an entry landing within the front yard setback, construct first and second story decks within the side yard setback, and reconstruct, enlarge, and convert an existing shed to an office within side and rear yard setbacks at 12 Whiton Avenue 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.
  3. The detached accessory structure shall not constitute a separate dwelling units.

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

                                                                                                                December 24, 2016