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Board of Appeals



Applicant: Brendan Burke
3 Great Acres Drive
Hanover, MA 02339

Property: 343R High Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 31788, Page 54

Plan Reference: Site plans entitled, "Existing Conditions Plan, 343 Rear High Street, Hingham, MA,” prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated April 21, 2017, with hand-marked edits received by the Board on October 30, 2017 and architectural drawings entitled, "Proposed New Garage,” including foundation, elevations, and cross section plans, prepared by Walter A. McKinnon Associates, Inc., 278 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated October 24, 2017 (Sheets 1-3)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Brendan Burke (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 an attached (26’x26’) 2-car garage located 11.5’ from the northerly side property line where a 20’ setback is required at 343 R High Street in Residence District B.

A public hearing was initially scheduled to open on September 19, 2017, but continued without the receipt of testimony so that a defective notice could be remedied. The Board opened a duly noticed public hearing on October 17, 2017 at the Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. A subsequent session was held, at the Applicant’s request, on October 30, 2017, during which the Applicant presented a revised plan that reduced the size of the originally proposed project, in addition to the extent of relief by 4’. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief, as revised, allowing a 15.5’ side yard setback where 20’ is required, subject to conditions set forth below.

The Board panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chair, and Joseph M. Fisher, and associate member Michael Mercurio. The Applicant appeared during each substantive hearing to present the request to the Board. 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 31,906 SF of land located on the east side of Duck Lane on the municipal boundary between Hingham and Weymouth. The lot is improved by a single family dwelling (ca. 1875), as well as a detached garage and a shed. The onsite wastewater disposal system occupies the area to the immediate rear of the dwelling. The rear northern corner of the property falls within FEMA Flood Zone A. A wetland system and a potential vernal pool are located to the rear of the property such that regulatory setbacks from these resource areas affect the back half of the lot. Finally, onsite topography varies, but generally slopes from front (el. 56) to back (el. 40).

The originally proposed plan called for construction of an attached 2-car garage to the north of the existing dwelling that would result in an 11.5’ side yard setback where 20’ is required. The Board initially expressed concern about the extent of relief requested. In response, the Applicant prepared a revised plan that reduced the proposed garage from 26’ in width to 22’ in width. The resulting extent of the requested side yard setback relief was improved from 11.5’ to 15.5’. The depth of the proposed garage was likewise reduced from 26’ to 24’. The overall intrusion into the setback was reduced by more than half - from 221 SF to 108 SF.

During the hearing, the Board discussed the existing garage on the property. The Applicant confirmed that the utility of this conforming structure is affected by its location in the far rear corner of the lot - more than 85’ from the dwelling. With a width of approximately 20’, the existing garage is also undersized. The Applicant verified that the proposed garage will not cause the property to exceed the maximum number of garage bays under § III-A, 1.8.2 of the By-Law since the existing structure does not include any garage doors or bays.


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 is affected by variable topography that generally slopes away from the existing dwelling at the front of the lot to wetland and floodplain area at the rear of the property. An onsite wastewater disposal system also limits the area to the rear of the existing dwelling. These circumstances do not generally affect the surrounding neighborhood or the overall district.

2. The literal enforcement of the Bylaws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. There are physical, financial, and regulatory barriers to the by right location of a conforming two-car garage elsewhere on the Property that would provide the required functionality and convenience evident with similar accessory uses elsewhere in the district. 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 proposed Project will not create any noise, traffic, or result in other similar negative impacts. There will be no adverse effects or 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 Project, which will result in an allowed accessory use, will not substantially derogate from the intent of the By-Law. The granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Michael Mercurio, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct an attached (22’x24’) 2-car garage located 15.5’ from the northerly side property line where a 20’ setback is required at 343 R High Street in Residence District B, 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 resulting side yard setback shall be no closer than 15.5’ to the northerly side property line.

3. The existing garage, located at the far rear corner of the Property, shall not be used to store vehicles.

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 M. Fisher
November 30, 2017