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Board of Appeals



Applicant: Alexandra C. Dubois Agent: Jeffrey A. Tocchio, Esq.
33 Free Street 175 Derby Street, Suite 30
Hingham, MA 02043 Hingham, MA 02043

Property: 33 Free Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 43255, Page 105

Plan Reference: Site plans entitled, "Plot Plan of Land,” prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated August 30, 2016, and architectural plans entitled, "Dubois Residence, Schematic Design Plans," prepared by Aprea Design, PO Box 680, Hingham, MA, dated November 23, 2016 (Drawings ES-1, PS-1, and A-1-A-3)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Alexandra C. Dubois (the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law and such other relief as necessary to replace an existing (21’x19’) detached garage located 6” from the eastern side property line with a new (22’x24’-8”) detached garage located 2’ from the eastern side property line where 15’ is required at 33 Free Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on February 15, 2017, at the Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular member Robyn S. Maguire, Acting Chair, and associate members Michael Mercurio and Jim Blakey. The Applicant was represented by Attorney Jeffrey A. Tocchio, Drohan Tocchio & Morgan, P.C. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief subject to 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 1.05 acres of land located on the south side of Free Street. The lot shape is narrow, with a width of 80 linear feet on Free Street and a depth of 571 linear feet. Additionally, the lot slopes significantly at its approximate center toward the rear.

The property is improved by a single family home (ca. 1890) and a detached garage (ca. 1965). The existing garage is located 6” from the easterly side lot line. The proposed plan calls for reconstruction and extension of the existing garage. The proposed project will improve the existing nonconforming side yard setback from 6” to 2’ and result in a modest 27 SF incursion beyond that which presently exists.

During the hearing, the Applicant represented that a cesspool is located immediately south of the existing home. This condition, in addition to the narrow shape of the lot and the placement of the existing structures on the Property, limit the by-right location of a two-car garage.


Based upon the information submitted and received, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members during 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 shape is narrow with a depth more than seven times its width. A cesspool limits a portion of the Property. Additionally an abrupt down slope affects the center of the lot, which levels off to the rear. Finally, the Property was previously improved with an undersized, detached accessory structure, dating to 1965, which is located approximately 6” from the easterly side lot line. These circumstances in combination do not generally affect the neighborhood.

2. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. The narrowness of the lot and location of the existing dwelling and cesspool in relation to the garage and driveway improvements present significant difficulties and financial hardship with locating a garage elsewhere on the Property. Moreover, the existing garage includes a cracked slab and is of a substandard size. The hardship demonstrated is appropriate for dimensional variances, particularly where a dimensional nonconformity already exists.

3. A Variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The proposed project will not generate noise, traffic, or result in other similar negative impacts. There will be no adverse effects and there will be no harm to the public good resulting from the proposed accessory structure.

4. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law. Relief will permit reconstruction of a garage, which is an allowed accessory structure in residential districts, in a manner that improves the existing nonconforming setback by 1.5’. The proposed additional incursion of 27 SF is relatively modest. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Michael Mercurio and seconded by Jim Blakey, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to replace an existing (21’x19’) detached garage located 6” from the eastern side property line with a new (22’x24’-8”) detached garage located 2’ from the eastern side property line where 15’ is required at 33 Free Street in Residence District A, 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 hearings before the Board.

2. The Applicant shall submit a plan depicting the location of the existing cesspool to the rear of the existing single-family dwelling prior to issuance of a building permit.

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,

Robyn S. Maguire
April 13, 2017