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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner: RSL Realty, LLC
39 Bel Air Road
Hingham, MA 02043

Property: 51-55 South Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 33323, Page 8

Plan References: Plans entitled, "Site Plan" and "Parking Plan," prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated May 27, 2016, revised and through August 25,2016, Drawings SP1 - SP2 and an architectural plan set entitled, "The Lincoln Building," including elevation, floor, building and section details, perspective, massing study, roof, and construction logistics plans, prepared by Studio Meyers, 73 South Street, Hingham, MA, dated May 20, 2014, Drawings A1-A12, SS01, L01-L02


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of RSL Realty, LLC (the “Applicant”) for a Commercial/Residential Building Special Permit A2 under § III-G, 6. and § I-F of the Zoning By-Law (the "By-Law") and such other relief as necessary to construct a 3-story Commercial/Residential Building, similar in footprint to the previously demolished "Lincoln Building," at 51-55 South Street (the "Property") in Business District A and the Downtown Hingham Overlay District. In conjunction with this application, the Applicant simultaneously filed an application with the Planning Board for Site Plan Approval under § I-G and § I-I, along with a Special Permit A3 Parking Determination under § III-G, 7. and Parking Waivers from § V-A of the By-Law.

The Board opened a hearing on the application jointly with the Planning Board at a duly advertised and noticed public hearing on March 30, 2016 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. Subsequent sessions were held by the Board on May 2, 2016, June 6, 2016, and October 19, 2016. The proposed offsite residential parking plan was formally modified on several occasions during the public hearing process. Proposals related to both 28 South Street and 147 North Street were withdrawn by the Applicant and replaced by a plan to locate overnight residential parking at 85-99 South Street. The Planning Board voted to conditionally grant Site Plan Approval and a Special Permit A3 Parking Determination with Waivers on September 12, 2016. In accordance with § I-I, 2.b., the Board then voted unanimously at the conclusion of its hearing on October 19, 2016 to conditionally grant the requested Special Permit to construct a Commercial/Residential Building on the Property, subject to conditions contained herein.

The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Joseph W. Freeman, Chairman, Robyn S. Maguire, and Joseph M. Fisher. The Applicant was represented by Reuven Levy and Charlene Flynn, RSL Realty, Attorney Richard Henderson, Architect Steve Meyers, and Engineer John Cavanaro.

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 meeting.


The subject property consists of approximately 3,390 SF located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Main Street and South Street. The site was previously improved by the historic Lincoln Building (ca. 1859), which partially collapsed during extreme snow events in February 2015 and was subsequently demolished. Under § III-I, 1.B., the building may be reconstructed within two years as long as the resulting structure is no less conforming than that destroyed by casualty or natural disaster.

The proposed plan would locate a new building on the property in substantially the same location and form as the previous. The building would maintain the same 0' front yard setback from both South and Main Street as that of the prior structure. The Historical Commission reviewed and approved the proposed building design, which closely resembles the former, through a demolition delay application. The plans also depict a 30" overhang that would protrude onto adjoining, separately owned property, including that of the MBTA. While State Building Code would allow the proposed projections over adjacent public ways, the cornices that extend over other private and MBTA-owned property will require an easement. The Applicant represented that discussion with both the affected private abutter and the MBTA have commenced and that permission to construct the cornices is likely to be attained. The MBTA is also presently reviewing an application from RSL Realty related other proposed work on the adjacent tunnel-cap, including hardscape and light installation.

The Applicant intends to use the ground floor of the proposed building permitted commercial and construct eight, one-bedroom residential units within the second and third stories above. The Applicant proposes to maintain the grandfathered level of commercial parking that previously existed for the former Lincoln Building and locate the eight required residential parking spaces approximately 340' from the site on property owned by 99 South Street, LLC, Robert Shepard, Manager. Section III-G, 7.a.iv.A allows off-site leased parking for Commercial/Residential Buildings, provided that a lease, with a minimum term of one (1) year, secures the requisite parking during overnight hours. As proposed, the lease would be self renewing on an annual basis. Based on a condition imposed by the Planning Board in its Special Permit A3, the required hours for overnight parking referenced in the lease will be between 6pm and 8am.

Next, one-bedroom dwelling units must provide a minimum of 575 GFA. The proposed floor plans depict units ranging from 609 SF to 634 SF on both the second and third floors. The final additional requirement relates to the adequacy of trash disposal for each household. The Applicant intends to contract with a private trash disposal company.


The Board reviewed relevant portions of the By-Law. Section III-G, 6.c. specifies additional requirements for a Commercial/Residential building in the Downtown Hingham Overlay District. Members agreed that the proposed project appears to comply with these requirements in that the building would contain permitted commercial uses at ground level facing both Main and South Streets. The ground floor will also include a public corridor accessible from the tunnel cap at the rear of the building. The corridor will provide access to both the retail uses and elevator/stairwells for the residential units above. Next, one-bedroom dwelling units must provide a minimum of 575 GFA. The proposed floor plans depict units ranging from 609 SF to 634 SF on both the second and third floors. The final additional requirement relates to the adequacy of trash disposal for each household. While the future residents of the proposed dwellings would be eligible for a permit to use the transfer station, the Applicant intends to contract with a private trash disposal company.


In terms of the specific findings required under § III-G, 6.a.i., the Board finds that the Commercial/Residential Building will not have an adverse impact on abutting residential or commercial neighborhoods and can be constructed with due consideration for health and safety. The commercial/residential building is in a Commercial Downtown Business Zone is likely to have little impact on any residential zones. With regard to health and safety, during construction, police details will be required on a daily basis during the construction phase to insure the safety of the site and public at large. The Applicant is also responsible for working out the details with the Fire Department for access to the site at all times. Additionally, construction workers will have to park vehicles off the site to minimize traffic congestion in the business areas.

The Board further finds that the building complies with the eligibility requirements specified in § III-G, 6.b. Permitted commercial uses will occupy the ground floor with residential use, consisting of eight, one-bedroom apartments, will be located on the second and third floors. Finally, sufficient off-street parking will be provided in compliance with the By-Law.

Based upon the information submitted and received at the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members during the meeting, the Board has further determined that:

a. The proposed use will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law, for the following reasons:
The proposed use is consistent with the general purpose of the By-Law as no adverse impact is expected to the health, safety, or welfare of the downtown businesses, neighbors, or the Town.

b. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of this By-Law, for the following reasons:
The proposed project supports the purposes and objectives of the Downtown Hingham Overlay District and complies with the eligibility requirements specified therein. The plan provides a mix of uses, including a housing option not otherwise available in the immediately surrounding area. Retail space will be maintained at street level on both South and Main Streets. The proposed residential units comply with the minimum floor area and maximum number of bedrooms. Finally, residential parking will be provided offsite within 340' at 99 South Street during the overnight hours.

c. The specific site is an appropriate location for such use, structure, or condition, compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area, for the following reasons:
The subject property is an appropriate location for a mixed-use development. The proposed Commercial/Residential Building will be constructed in the same location and design as the previously demolished Lincoln Building. The resulting structure will therefore be compatible with other development in the surrounding area in terms of its placement, scale, and material appearance.

d. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or potential adverse impacts will be mitigated, for the following reasons:
The proposed Commercial/Residential Building will not have an adverse impact on abutting neighborhoods. The applicant has devised a construction plan intended to mitigate impacts on businesses, as well as vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, within Hingham Square during the redevelopment phase. The plan ensures that construction will proceed with due consideration for health and safety.

e. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, for the following reasons:
There will be no nuisance or hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. The project will include dedicated offsite parking during overnight hours for the proposed residential use. Transient parking for loading and deliveries will continue to be met by on-street parking areas located along South and Main Streets. The Commercial/Residential Building will also be made handicapped accessible, improving universal access to the property.

f. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use, for the following reasons:
Adequate facilities exist for the proposed use. The proposed building will be connected to the public sewer main in South Street through a gravity sewer connection and the water company confirmed that it can meet demand generated by the new residential units. Stormwater will be directed to a "green roof" and excess runoff will continue to enter the municipal drainage system.

g. The proposed Project meets accepted design standards and criteria for the functional design of facilities, structures, stormwater management, and site construction, for the following reasons:
The proposed construction meets accepted design standards.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Robyn S. Maguire, the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the Commercial/Residential Building Special Permit A2 under § III-G of the By-Law, permitting the construction of a 3-story Commercial/Residential Building at 51-55 South Street, subject to the following Conditions:

1. The proposed construction shall be completed and the use shall be operated in a manner consistent with approved plans and representations made during the Public Hearing.

2. The final lease notification requirements if the lease is to be terminated shall be increased from 30 days to 120 days.

3. Redesign of pedestrian circulation to the property resulting from discussion with the MBTA and/or the Board of Selectmen shall be submitted to the Board. Substantial changes shall require modification of this Decision.

4. In accordance with the provisions of the Hingham Zoning By-Law, the conditions imposed in the Planning Board Site Plan Review decision, as voted on September 12, 2016, are binding conditions to this Decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals. All reports required to be filed with the Planning Board shall also be filed with the Zoning Board.

For The Board of Appeals,

Joseph W. Freeman
November 8, 2016