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Board of Appeals




Applicant:   Lisa Parsons                                        Unit Owner:   EHP Properties, LLC
       20 Newton Street                                                       69 Water Street
       Hull, MA 02045                                                           Hingham, MA 02043

Property:    69 Water Street   

Deed Reference:            Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 45870, Page 164

Plan References:            Plan entitled, "Proposed Parking for Unit 4, Water Street Condominium," prepared by Ernest H. Fagerstrom, PLS, 138 Norwell Avenue, Norwell, MA, dated May 2, 1997, revised and received by the Board on December 15, 2016 and an untitled, undated Floor, Elevation and Section Plans received by the Board on December 15, 2016


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Lisa Parsons (the “Applicant”) to modify a Commercial/Residential Building Special Permit A2 issued by the Board on February 16, 2016 under § III-G of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary retain the existing round floor as retail and storage space and add two levels of residential space above at 69 Water Street (the "Property") in Business A and the Downtown Hingham Overlay District.

The Applicant simultaneously filed an application for Site Plan Approval under § I-G and § I-I of the By-Law with the Planning Board. During its regularly scheduled meeting on January 9, 2017, the Planning Board reviewed the application, which included a request to waive the public hearing requirement. The Planning Board determined that the revised plan constituted a minor site plan in accordance with § I-I, 5. (b) and waived the requirement for a public hearing on the matter. 

The Board of Appeals opened the public hearing on the application to modify its Special Permit on January 11, 2017. The initial hearing was continued without receipt of testimony to a duly noticed public hearing held in Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street, on January 12, 2017. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Acting Chair, and Joseph M. Fisher and associate member Jim Blakey. The Applicant and the project architect, Alan Kearney, appeared to present the request. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Special Permit A2 Modification under § III-G 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 meeting.


The subject property consists of approximately 0.5 acres located at the corner of Water Street and Green Street. The lot supports a multi-unit commercial condominium development and related improvements.

The Board issued a Special Permit A2 in February 2016 allowing the Applicant to locate a residential unit appurtenant to the end unit on the northerly portion of the site. As approved, the entire building façade facing Water Street and a portion of that fronts on Green Street would continue to be occupied by the retail store, White Magdalena. However, the rear portion of the unit, which is elevated slightly from the front retail space due to the onsite topography, would be dedicated to a residential entryway, kitchen and living space. Two-bedrooms would occupy a proposed second-story addition.

One particular requirement of the Downtown Hingham Overlay District generated substantial discussion during the original application. Section III-G, 6.c. of the By-Law requires that: "Dwelling units shall be located above ground level. No dwelling units shall be permitted below ground level." The Board acknowledged that any mixed-use building would have to have some level of residential area on the first floor. Residential entryways would minimally be located on the first floor. A member of the public said he reads the bylaw as limiting residential use at ground floor level entirely.

However, the Board ultimately determined that the bylaw when read in its entirety allows some component of residential use at ground level as long as the first requirement of the section is also followed, i.e., a commercial use at ground level facing the street frontage.

The Applicant now hopes to modify the plans approved under the 2016 Special Permit such that commercial/retail space would occupy the entire ground floor with the exception of an existing garage that was previously approved as an onsite parking space for the residential unit. The Applicant would also like to add a third story, where previously just a second story addition was approved. The proposed structure as revised complies with the three-story height limitation applicable in Business District A and satisfies with all other requirements of the Downtown Hingham Overlay District.  


Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members during the meeting, the Board has determined 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 proposed use is consistent with the general purpose of the By-Law as no adverse impact is expected to the health, safety, or welfare of the downtown businesses, neighbors, or the Town.

b.    The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of this By-Law, for the following reasons:

The proposed project both supports the purposes and objectives of the Downtown Hingham Overlay District and complies with the eligibility requirements specified therein. The plan provides a mix of uses, including a housing option not otherwise available in the surrounding area. As modified, a retail store and commercial space will be maintained on the ground level in the front portion of the building facing both Water Street and Green Street. No dwelling unit will be below the ground level. Portions of the dwelling unit will be above ground level, although some portion of the dwelling unit will be at ground level from the perspective of Green Street. The proposed residential unit complies with the minimum floor area and maximum number of bedrooms and will have use of two parking spaces.

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 subject property is an appropriate location for the proposed use. The project is located in the Downtown Overlay District, but adjacent to a residential zoning district. The resulting mixed-use building will offer a nice transition to the surrounding residential neighborhood.

d.  The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or potential adverse impacts will be mitigated, for the following reasons:

There will be no adverse impact associated with the proposed use.

e.  There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, for the following reasons:

Dedicated parking will be provided for the proposed residential use. The existing retail business located within the building recently replaced a former catering business. This reduced the number of truck deliveries and traffic generated on site.

f.    Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use, for the following reasons:

Adequate facilities exist for the proposed use. The property is presently served by sewer and water and located within walking distance of public transportation.

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:

The existing systems are adequate for the proposed use and do not require modification.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Jim Blakey, the Board voted unanimously to modify the Commercial/Residential Building Special Permit A2 issued on February 16, 2016 under § III-G of the By-Law, allowing ground floor commercial/retail space and a two bedroom residential unit to be located within a second and third story addition to be located at 69 Water Street, subject to the following Conditions:

  1. The Applicant shall construct the Project in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearing before the Board.
  2. All conditions of the previous Special Permit Decision, dated February 16, 2016, remain in effect unless specifically modified by this Decision.

                                                                                                    For The Board of Appeals,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                    Robyn S. Maguire                                                                                                                                                 February 14, 2017