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Applicant and Thomas & Dawn Martel Agent: Cavanaro Consulting, Inc.
Property Owner:  5 Melville Walk PO Box 5175
Hingham, MA 02043 Norwell, MA 02061

Property: 5 Melville Walk, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 41167, Page 280

Plan Reference: Plans entitled, “Site Plan to Accompany ZBA Application, 5 Melville Walk, Hingham, MA 02043,” prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, Inc., 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated May 23, 2017 (1 Sheet) and “Landscape Plan, 5 Melville Walk, Hingham, MA,” prepared by Sean Papich Landscape Architecture, 222 North Street, Hingham, MA, dated April 26, 2017 (1 Drawing)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Thomas and Dawn Martel (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 install a privacy screen/pergola resulting in a 9.1’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 5 Melville Walk 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 13,066 SF of land located between Causeway Road and Melville Walk at its intersection with Alice Walk. Both Melville Walk and Alice Walk are unconstructed right of ways. The property slopes from front to back toward Hingham Harbor and a portion of the property is located in FEMA Flood Zone VE (el. 13). A single-family dwelling occupies the approximate center of the lot.

The applicant plans to improve the limited usable rear yard available with a patio. The proposed work, which was permitted by the Conservation Commission through a Negative Determination and is now partially complete, includes a stone grilling station. The Applicant seeks relief to locate a pergola roof over the grilling station since the 8’-4.25” tall structure sits 9’ from the side property line where 15’ is required.

During the hearing, the Board considered whether the structure qualified as an exempt detached accessory building. The definition of “structure” contained in Section VI of the By-Law excludes a maximum of one accessory building, not exceeding 64 SF in ground coverage or 9’ in height, per lot in residential districts, provided the accessory building is located no closer than 5’ from side and rear lot lines. The Applicant suggested that the exemption could apply to the proposed grilling station as it complied with all dimensional requirements specified in the By-Law for exempt detached accessory buildings. Members agreed that the proposed structure would comply with dimensional requirements for exempt detached accessory buildings; however, the Board also determined that the structure would not qualify for the exemption since it is a detached accessory structure, as opposed to a detached accessory building. As defined in the By-Law, buildings must be “…designed for shelter, housing, or enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or property of any kind.” The proposed pergola roof attached to the grilling station would provide visual screening, but not otherwise satisfy the purposes of an enclosed building.

The Board then committed to review the statutory criteria in its assessment of this variance application.


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 property slopes from front to back toward Hingham Harbor. FEMA Flood Zone VE (el. 13) partially affects the property. 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. A grant of a Variance in this instance will allow for a reasonable use 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 pergola is consistent with the character of the neighborhood. There will be no adverse effects and there will be no harm to the public good.

4. A variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the Bylaw. The proposed incursion is relatively modest and complies with all dimensional requirements related to detached accessory buildings. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the intent 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 install a privacy screen/pergola resulting in a 9.1’ side yard setback where 15’ is required at 5 Melville Walk 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