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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner: Lynda L. Watt
31 Sherwood Road
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 31 Sherwood Road, Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 35525, Page 348

Plan Reference: Site plan with hand drawn setbacks, plotted on July 10, 2008 and received by the Board on June 20, 2017 and elevation plans, received by the Board on May 1, 2017 (Drawings SK-1, SK-2, and SK-3)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Lynda L. Watt (the “Applicant”) for a Finding under MGL c. 40A, § 6 and such other relief as necessary to construct an enclosed breezeway connecting the existing single family dwelling and nonconforming detached garage at 31 Sherwood Road in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at the Town Hall before a panel consisting of regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chair, 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 make the requested Finding.

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 property consists of 9,004 SF of land located on the northerly side of Sherwood Road. The lot was created through a 1939 subdivision plan prepared by Lewis Perkins and recorded at Plan Book 6, Page 298. The property is improved by a single-family dwelling and a detached two-car garage which, according to assessing records, were constructed in 1947. The garage is located partially within the required side yard setback from the westerly property line, which is shared with the South Shore Country Club. Thus, when the Town later enacted the current 15’ side yard setback in 1955, the garage became a preexisting nonconforming structure. The Applicant now proposes construction of breezeway that would connect the existing dwelling to the garage to enable safe access between the structures in the winter. Based on the submitted plan, the proposed construction would be located in compliance with present setback requirements at a distance approximately 31’-8” from the westerly property line.
The Board reviewed the relevant sections of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 6:
... a zoning ordinance or by-law...shall apply to any change or substantial extension of such use, to a building or special permit issued after the first notice of said public hearing, to any reconstruction, extension or structural change of such structure and to any alteration of a structure ... to provide for its use for a substantially different purpose or for the same purpose in a substantially different manner... Pre-existing nonconforming structures or uses may be extended or altered, provided, that no such extension or alteration shall be permitted unless there is a finding by the permit granting authority . . . that such change, extension or alteration shall not be substantially more detrimental than the existing nonconforming use to the neighborhood.

When read together, these portions of the statue provide that changes to nonconforming structures may be permitted if (1) the extensions or changes themselves comply with the by-law and (2) the structures as extended or changed are found to be not substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood than the preexisting nonconforming structure.

There would be no increase in the extent of the nonconforming use of the structure. The portion of the detached garage located within the side yard setback will continue to serve as a garage, though the "use" of the structure as defined in the Zoning By-Law will technically change from "Accessory Building" to a "Single Family Dwelling" since it will be attached to the existing house by way of the proposed breezeway. And as noted above, the proposed new construction will conform to the dimensional requirements of the Zoning By-Law.


For the reasons set forth hereinabove, and upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Robyn S. Maguire, the Board voted unanimously to make the following Finding pursuant to MGL c. 40A, § 6:

(1) The proposed construction would not be substantially more detrimental than the existing nonconforming use to the neighborhood, provided that such work proceeds in accordance with the plans and representations made by the Applicant to the Board, including the representation that the garage will not be converted to living space.

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 17, 2017