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Board of Appeals



Applicant and Scott J. & Elizabeth M. Cullen
Property Owner: 42 Elm Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Property: 42 Elm Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 48225, Page 39

Plan Reference: Plan entitled, “Plot Plan for 42 Elm Street in Hingham, Mass.,” prepared by C&G Survey Company, 37 Jackson Road, Scituate, MA, dated January 19, 2017 (A 01) and architectural plans entitled, “Zoning & Historical Review,” preparer unknown, dated May 23, 2017 (10 drawings)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Scott J. and Elizabeth M. Cullen (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Hingham Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct a 2-story addition resulting in a 13.4’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 42 Elm Street in Residence District A.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on June 20, 2017 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chair, Robyn S. Maguire, and Joseph M. Fisher. The Applicant appeared to present the application during the hearing. At the conclusion of the proceedings, 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 11,761 SF of land located on the southeast side of Elm Street. The lot has an irregular, trapezoid-like shape and is affected by significant amounts ledge on both the south and west sides of the property. The property is improved by an existing 2-story single-family dwelling, detached accessory structure, and related site improvements. The original footprint of the dwelling is not parallel to any of the property lines, resulting in the structure’s slightly askew position on the lot.

The Applicant proposes construction of a small, 2-story addition (13.2’x5.9’) that would fill in the rear, southeast corner of the dwelling. The additional space (77 SF/floor) would accommodate a kitchen renovation on the first floor and an additional bathroom on the second. Due to the lot shape and position of the existing house on the lot, a triangular portion of the addition would be located within the required side yard setback.

The Board received three letters from abutters at 40, 47 and 48 Elm Street. Each expressed support for the proposed construction and requested relief.


Based upon the information submitted and received, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members during 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 lot is affected by an irregular shape and the presence of ledge. These circumstances, in combination with the placement of the existing structures on the lot, are not generally found in the zoning district.

2. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. Literal enforcement would inhibit improvement of the property in a manner enjoyed by similar neighboring properties. Existing improvements such as a bulkhead, exterior door, and a deck, limit location of a similarly modest expansion on the southeast side of the house. A grant of a Variance in this instance will allow for a reasonable expansion of an existing dwelling 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 design of the proposed construction is consistent with the character of the neighborhood. There will be no adverse effects and there will be no harm to the public good. Abutters submitted letters of support for the project.

4. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The proposed incursion is di minimis in size and the extent of requested relief is similarly modest. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Robyn S. Maguire and seconded by Joseph M. Fisher, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law and such other relief as necessary to construct a 2-story addition resulting in a 13.4’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 42 Elm Street in Residence District A, subject to the following condition:

1. The Applicant shall construct the addition a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made during the hearing 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
August 18, 2017