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TOWN OF HINGHAM
Board of Appeals
NOTICE OF DECISION
IN THE MATTER OF:
Applicant/Owner: Melissa Smith and Nathan Rusmussen
111 Thaxter Street
Hingham, MA 02043
Property: 111 Thaxter Street, Hingham, MA 02043
Deed Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 31638, Page 88
Plan References: Architectural plan set, including “Front and Side Elevations” (Sheet 1) and “New Floor Plan” (Sheet 2), prepared by Walter A. McKinnon Associates, Inc., Weymouth, MA, dated August 22, 2018 and revised September 10, 2018
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS:
This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Melissa Smith and Nathan Rusmussen (collectively, the “Applicant”) for a Special Permit A1 under §§ III-A, 1.8.9 and V-K of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit at 111 Thaxter Street in Residence District A.
The Board held a duly noticed public hearing on the matter on April 8, 2019 in Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Joseph M. Fisher, Chair, and Robyn S. Maguire, and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant appeared to represent the application to the Board. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit, 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.
BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION:
The subject property consists of approximately 28,000 SF of land located on the east side of Thaxter Street. The lot is improved by a single family dwelling (ca. 1960). The proposed plan calls for conversion of an attached two-car garage into an Accessory Dwelling Unit (“ADU”), which would be approximately 730 SF in size. The ADU would include a first floor combined kitchen/living area, one bedroom and bathroom. A new three-car garage would be constructed adjacent to the ADU, providing parking for both the single family dwelling and the ADU. The current property owners would continue living in the principal dwelling and a family member would reside in the ADU.
During the hearing, the Board reviewed the application in detail to confirm compliance with the eligibility requirements for ADUs. These requirements include the following:
a. As of the date that the application for a special permit is filed with the Board of Appeals, the total number of accessory dwelling units in the Town shall not exceed two and one-half percent (2.5%) of the total single-family dwelling units in the Town (the “ADU Cap”). The ADU Cap shall be determined by a fraction represented as follows: the numerator shall be the total number of accessory dwelling units allowed by special permit pursuant to this Section V-K plus the number of accessory dwelling unit permit applications pending approval before the Board of Appeals and the denominator shall be the total number of single-family dwelling units existing in the Town as classified in the Hingham assessors’ records. This is the fifth ADU application; the Town has not exceeded the ADU Cap of 156 based on the 6,223 single-family dwelling units presently classified in the Hingham assessors’ records.
b. The applicant shall, at the time application is made for the special permit, be the owner of the lot and single-family dwelling thereon in which the accessory dwelling unit is proposed and must certify in such application that (i) the owner currently occupies the single-family dwelling or will occupy the principal dwelling or accessory dwelling unit as his or her primary residence immediately upon issuance of the special permit and (ii) that the other unit shall be occupied by a family member. The Applicant owns the property as evidenced by the submitted deed. The Applicant certified pursuant to Section V-K, 3.b that they will continue to reside in the principal dwelling. The accessory dwelling unit will be occupied by a family member.
c. The area of the lot on which the existing single-family dwelling is located shall not be less than five thousand (5,000) square feet or, in the case of new construction, shall comply with the applicable minimum lot size for the single-family zoning district in which the single-family dwelling is proposed. The lot consists of approximately 28,000 SF of land, in excess of the minimum requirement.
d. The application must be accompanied by written confirmation from either (i) the Board of Health that the requirements of the Massachusetts Title 5 septic system regulations and the Hingham Board of Health Supplemental Rules and Regulations for septic systems have been or can be met or (ii) the Sewer Department that there exists available capacity in the applicable sewer district, in either case, to support the total number of bedrooms proposed for the lot inclusive of the accessory dwelling unit. Correspondence from the Sewer Department confirms that there exists available capacity in the North Sewer District to support the total number of bedrooms proposed for the lot, inclusive of the ADU.
e. Only one accessory dwelling unit shall be permitted within a single family dwelling and per lot so that the total number of dwelling units per lot shall not exceed two. The total number of dwelling units on the lot will not exceed two.
f. In Residence District D and in Business Districts A and B accessory dwelling units are only permitted in preexisting nonconforming single-family dwellings. Not applicable.
The By-Law also includes a number of dimensional and design requirements with which the proposed plan appears to comply. These include the following:
a. The architectural character of a detached single-family dwelling shall be maintained. The character post-construction will remain consistent with that of a single-family dwelling.
b. All stairways accessing an accessory dwelling unit above the ground floor of a single-family dwelling shall be enclosed within the exterior walls of the single-family dwelling. Not applicable.
c. The maximum area of an accessory dwelling unit shall be the lesser of 750 square feet or 30% of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling. For this calculation, the gross floor area shall be as defined in Section VI of this By-Law. The ADU, at 730 SF, complies.
d. An accessory dwelling unit shall not be created by any extension of a nonconforming building dimension, including the front, side or rear yard setback. The ADU complies with all applicable setbacks.
e. Any new entrance for the accessory dwelling unit or principal dwelling shall be located to the side or rear of the single-family dwelling. Not applicable. Access to the ADU will be from within the existing single-family dwelling and the proposed garage.
f. Water and sewer utilities serving the accessory dwelling unit shall not be metered separately from the principal dwelling. There will be shared metering.
g. Additional or modified landscaping, fences or other buffers may be required to protect abutting properties from potential negative visual or auditory impacts of the accessory dwelling unit. Not applicable.
h. The parking requirement for an accessory dwelling unit is one space per bedroom in addition to the minimum required parking spaces for a single-family dwelling. In connection with the project, a new three-car garage would be constructed adjacent to the ADU, providing parking in compliance with the By-Law for both the single family dwelling and the ADU.
i. An accessory dwelling unit may not have more than two (2) bedrooms. The ADU will have 1-bedroom.
Based on the information submitted and presented during the hearing, and the deliberations and discussions of the Board 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 ADU is in harmony with the purposes and intent of the By-Law because this is an allowed accessory residential use in a residential district. The proposed secondary unit will not affect the public health, safety, or welfare.
b. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant sections of the By-Law. The project, which creates an additional housing unit to enable the owners to share space and the burdens of homeownership with family members, without altering either the character of the principal dwelling or the neighborhood, advances the purposes specified in Section V-K. Additionally, the ADU meets all eligibility, dimensional, and design requirements.
c. The specific site is an appropriate location for the proposed use and is compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area. The exterior of the structure will maintain the appearance of a single-family, consistent with both the architectural style of the existing single-family dwelling and the character of the neighborhood.
d. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or the potential adverse impacts will be mitigated. There will be no adverse impacts associated with the proposed ADU. Additional housing will be created with no impact on the neighborhood.
e. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians. There is sufficient parking, including spaces within the proposed three-car garage, to serve both the principal dwelling and ADU. There will be no nuisance or hazard resulting from the creation of an ADU.
f. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use. Adequate facilities exist for operation of the use. The property is presently connected to both water and sewer.
Upon a motion made by Robyn S. Maguire and seconded by Mario Romania, Jr., the Board voted unanimously to GRANT the request by Melissa Smith and Nathan Rusmussen for a Special Permit A1 under §§ III-A, 1.8.9 and V-K of the By-Law to construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit at 111 Thaxter Street in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:
1. The work shall be completed in accordance with the approved plans and representations made during the public hearing such that the ADU shall not exceed 730 SF gross floor area.
2. In accordance with Section V-K, 5, this special permit is subject to the following general conditions:
a. The owner of the single-family dwelling shall occupy either the principal dwelling or the accessory dwelling unit as the owner’s primary residence. Temporary absences of the owner for a period of not more than nine months in the aggregate in any twelve month period and active military service of the owner for any length of time shall not be deemed a violation of this requirement provided that the dwelling units may only be occupied by family members of the owner during the owner’s absence.
b. The owner shall recertify annually, by submission of a notarized letter to the Building Commissioner that the owner will continue to occupy either the primary dwelling or the accessory dwelling unit as the owner’s primary residence, except for a bona fide temporary absence as provided above in subsection 5.a.
c. Upon the sale or other conveyance or transfer of a single-family dwelling which has been issued a permit for an accessory dwelling unit, if the new owner wishes to maintain the special permit for the accessory dwelling unit use, such new owner must, within thirty (30) days of such transfer, submit a notarized letter to the Building Commissioner certifying that the new owner will occupy one of the dwelling units as the new owner’s primary residence and comply with the other conditions of the accessory dwelling unit use.
d. Neither the principal dwelling nor the accessory dwelling unit may be sold or otherwise conveyed or transferred separately from the other.
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,
Robyn S. Maguire
June 5, 2019