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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner: Town of Hingham
210 Central Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Agents: Daniel M. Gagne, PE and Roger Fernandes, Town Engineer
Beals and Thomas, Inc. T Town of Hingham
32 Court Street 25 Bare Cove Park Drive
Plymouth, MA 02360 Hingham, MA 02043

Premises/Property: Martins Lane Right-of-Way, Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 1961, Page 291

Plan Reference: Plan entitled, "Seawall Repair Plan,” prepared by Beals and Thomas, Inc., 32 Court Street, Plymouth, MA, dated September 5, 2018 (1 Sheet)


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of the Town of Hingham (the "Applicant") for Special Permit A1 under § III-C, 4. of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to repair 285 ft. of seawall and construct 30’ of new wall, increasing the wall height by 18”, along Martins Lane in the Floodplain Protection Overlay District.

The Board opened a duly advertised and noticed public hearing on the application on October 16, 2018. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chair, and Joseph M. Fisher, and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant’s Agent, Daniel Gagne, PE, from Beals and Thomas, Inc. appeared to represent the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit A1 under § III-C, 4. of the By-Law with conditions as set forth below.

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 existing seawall supports the western edge of Martins Lane and boarders Hingham Harbor. Constructed of mortared stone, the seawall is approximately 5’ in height and lined with a wooden post and rail fence. This segment of seawall was recently reviewed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (“DCR”) through its Coastal Protection Infrastructure Inventory and Assessment. DCR found the wall to be in poor condition (D rating) and assigned a moderate priority rating (III) due to potential risk to nearby residential property in the event of a failure. The report also describes some areas of seawall displacement and roadway sinkholes that presently affect this infrastructure.

The project calls for the wall height to be increased by 18” in order to mitigate potential coastal storm flooding and sea level rise impacts on the adjacent public roadway and surrounding neighborhood. The plan includes a full-depth reconstruction of an approximate 300-foot section of Martins Lane. Excavation will take place landward of the seawall so that reinforced concrete can be installed behind and below the wall. Additional granite blocks will be used to increase the wall height to above mean high water elevation. The 30’ section of new wall to the south of the existing will be consistent with the existing seawall in terms of both size and materials. The Town plans to limit construction to low tide intervals in order to keep the worksite dry and avoid dewatering.

During the hearing, the Applicant’s Agent noted that the Conservation Commission recently reviewed the project, including its anticipated temporary impact on salt marsh. While preparing for the meeting, the Conservation Officer noticed a discrepancy between the proposed work area and the property line/right-of-way (“ROW”) locations depicted on the submitted plans. Special Real Estate Counsel for the Town then reviewed the record instruments and found that a small portion of the wall to the north is located outside of the presently accepted Martins Lane ROW. According to counsel’s research, Town Meeting, in 1947, discontinued a 40 SF portion of the former Martins Lane layout upon which a segment of seawall is located. The discontinued portion reverted to the fee owner, Linn Service Realty; however, that entity was dissolved in 1936. The result is that the 40 SF section now consists of a private way with owners unknown, though it is paved and continues to be maintained by the Town as an extension of the public way. Special Real Estate Counsel, in an opinion dated October 15, 2018, suggested that the Selectmen and Town Meeting may opt to layout the discontinued 40 SF area as part of the Martins Lane ROW again so that the seawall project can proceed as designed. The Board discussed imposition of appropriate conditions to address the unresolved control issue related to the 40 SF area in which approximately 20 linear feet of seawall is located.


Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, the Board made the following findings in accordance with the Special Permit Approval Criteria under Section I-F, 2.:

a. Use of the property is in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law. The proposed roadway maintenance and seawall project is in harmony with the general purposes of the By-Law, which include securing safety from flood and other dangers. The proposed seawall repair and extension project is intended to mitigate potential coastal storm flooding and sea level rise impacts on the existing public roadway and surrounding neighborhood.

b. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of the By-Law. The Floodplain Protection Overlay District specifically recognizes the appropriateness of a special permit for appropriate municipal uses, excavations for drainage improvements, and roads where alternative means of egress are impractical or where there is no alternative means of access to land otherwise suitable for residential development. The proposed roadway maintenance and seawall project is located in Residence District C. The Martins Lane ROW provides access to a number of existing dwellings as well as the World’s End Reservation.

c. The specific site is an appropriate location for the proposed use and is compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area. The proposed project will take place largely within existing developed areas such that no increase in impervious roadway surfacing is proposed. The extended portion of the wall will consist of similar materials as the existing seawall and is therefore compatible with the characteristics of the existing built environment.

d. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or the potential adverse impacts will be mitigated. The project will create positive impacts as it will improve coastal resiliency against sea level rise and increased coastal storm flooding. In addition to protecting the exiting roadway, the project should reduce risk of damage for nearby residential properties in the event of coastal storm flooding.

e. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. The proposed project is anticipated to reduce potential vehicular and pedestrian hazards, including repair of sinkholes in the roadway surface that are associated with the deteriorating seawall. The existing, deteriorated post and rail fencing on the top of the wall will be replaced with a guardrail to improve safety as well.

f. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. The proposed project will not result in an increased demand for utilities, and no further municipal or private support facilities are required.

g. The proposal meets accepted design standards and criteria for the functional design of facilities, structures, stormwater management, and site construction. The proposed improvements meet accepted design standards for public ways and consider sea level rise. Additionally, the Town plans to limit construction to low tide intervals in order to keep the work site dry, avoid dewatering, and minimize impacts on adjacent salt marsh. Finally, stormwater patterns are not anticipated to substantially change post-construction.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Mario Romania, Jr., the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the requested Special Permit A1 under § III-C, 4. of the By-Law to repair 285 ft. of seawall and construct 30’ of new wall, increasing the wall height by 18”, along Martins Lane in the Floodplain Protection Overlay District, subject to the following conditions:

1. The work shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans and representations made during the public hearing.

2. Work shall not commence on the segment of wall within the discontinued 40 SF section of the former Martins Lane right-of-way until the Zoning Administrator has determined that the Town has the legal right to proceed with the work.

3. Construction activities shall not commence before 7am on weekdays and end no later than 7pm on weekdays. Construction activities shall not commence before 8am on weekends and end no later than 6pm on weekends.

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 M. Fisher
January 14, 2019