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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner: Michael J. and Nancy MacDonald
190 High Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Agent: Al Kearney
222 North Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Premises: 190 High Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 19214, Page 80

Plan References: Plan set entitled, “Building Permit Plan, 190 High Street - Hingham,” prepared by Cavanaro Consulting, 687 Main Street, Norwell, MA, dated January 17, 2019 and unsigned architectural drawings, including a partial elevation and axonometric, dated December 18, 2018, and revised floor plan, received January 18, 2019


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Michael J. and Nancy H. MacDonald (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct a screen porch resulting in a 15.2’ side yard setback where 20’ is required in at 190 High Street in Residence District B.

A public hearing was duly noticed and held on December 18, 2018 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. At the Applicant’s request, the Board continued the matter to a subsequent session held on January 28, 2019, during which a revised plan was presented to the Board. As modified, the proposed construction would result in a 16.8’ side yard setback where 20’ is required in the District.

The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Chair, and Robyn S. Maguire, and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant’s Agent, Al Kearney, appeared along with the Applicant to represent the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested relief as modified with conditions 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 subject property consists of 35,312 SF of land located on the south side of High Street and adjacent to Plymouth River School. The lot is substantially narrower along its front property line (80.4’) when compared to both the rear property line (93.5’) and side property lines (404.7’-408.6’). These dimensions result in an irregular shape. The property is improved by a single-family dwelling and related improvements, including a driveway, wastewater disposal system, and two detached accessory structures.

The originally proposed plan called for construction of a (10’x20’) screened porch addition on the eastern façade of the dwelling. As designed, the addition would have resulted in a 91 SF incursion into the side yard setback. During the initial hearing held on December 18, 2019, and following receipt of testimony from direct abutters, the Board expressed some concern about the extent of the originally requested relief for the proposed accessory structure. In response to these concerns, the Applicant submitted a revised plan that reduced the width of the proposed porch from 10’ to 8.5’. The resulting incursion was reduced as a result to 55 SF. The Board noted that Section IV-C, 8. of the By-Law allows up to 30 SF of certain structures, including unenclosed porches, to project into setbacks by-right. Members agreed that the requested relief, which as revised represents a 25 SF incursion beyond that permitted by-right, is relatively modest in size.


Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of the Board during the meeting, the Board made the following findings:

1. Circumstances related to soil, shape, or topography especially affect the land or structures in question: The subject property has an unusual shape due to a substantially narrower width (80’ front and 93’ rear) than depth (405’ east - 409’ west). This condition, in combination with the location of the existing improvements on the lot, especially affect the subject property and not generally the zoning district.

2. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. The lot shape in relation to the location of the existing dwelling presents physical and practical difficulties to by-right construction elsewhere on the lot. A grant of a variance in this instance will allow for the reasonable improvement of the property in a manner consistent with others single family dwellings in the neighborhood.

3. A Variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. The proposed improvements will not create any noise, traffic, or result in other similar negative impacts. There will be no adverse effects on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good resulting from the proposed construction.

4. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law. The proposed extension is relatively modest in nature, resulting in a 55 SF incursion in total, which is just 25 SF more than allowed by right under Section IV-C, 8. 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 Robyn S. Maguire and seconded by Mario Romania, Jr., the Board voted unanimously to grant a Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law to construct a screen porch within the required side yard setback at 190 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 such that the resulting side yard setback associated with the porch shall be no less than 16.8’.

2. The porch shall remain screened. Conversion to a fully enclosed structure, whether heated or unheated, shall require application to the Board to modify the relief granted herein. Said request shall be heard during a public hearing.

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, Chair
February 6, 2019