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TOWN OF HINGHAM
Board of Appeals
IN THE MATTER OF:
Applicant/Owner: Canterbury Street, LLC
15 Lewis Court
Hingham, MA 02043
Applicant’s Agent: Jason W. Morgan, Esq.
Drohan Tocchio & Morgan, PC
175 Derby Street, Suite 30
Hingham, MA 02043
Property: 111 Weir Street, Hingham, MA 02043
Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 49949, Page 117
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS:
This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Canterbury Street, LLC (the "Applicant") for an Administrative Appeal of the Building Commissioner’s determination, dated May 6, 2019, that 111 Weir Street in Residence District C is not a buildable lot.
The Board opened a hearing on the application at a duly advertised and noticed public hearing on July 23, 2019 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street, during which the Board heard public comment and considered a written request from the Applicant to continue the hearing. Subsequent sessions were held on January 13, 2020 and February 25, 2020. The Board also conducted a site visit on February 2, 2020. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chair, and Paul K. Healey and associate member Mario Romania, Jr. The Applicant was in attendance during the hearings and represented by Attorney Jason W. Morgan, Esq., Drohan Tocchio & Morgan, P.C. The Board was assisted in its review by Special Real Estate Counsel, Susan C. Murphy, Esq., Dain, Torpy, Le Ray, Wiest & Garner, P.C., and Patrick Brennan, P.E., Amory Engineers. The Building Commissioner also attended the hearing. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Board voted unanimously to reverse the Building Commissioner’s determination, dated May 6, 2019.
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 6.88 acres of land located on the east side of Weir Street. The lot includes a 4.4 acre pond that physically separates the buildable portion of the property from its front property line that runs along Weir Street. This property line provides more than sufficient length (388 contiguous linear feet, where 150 feet is required in Residence C), but the Building Commissioner determined that it provides insufficient access to qualify as legal frontage.
With the application and during the hearing the Applicant submitted, in addition to several legal arguments, material that claimed that access from the front property line to the buildable portion of the lot could be attained over an existing 12’-wide earthen dam. As noted in the Procedural History, Board members conducted a site visit to visually inspect the dam on February 2, 2020. In addition, the Board’s peer review engineer provided an analysis of the existing dam construction. He confirmed that the dam would have to be reconstructed in order to serve as vehicular and pedestrian access. In particular, the dam would have to be widened to 20’ in order to comply with public safety requirements established by the Fire Department. The estimated cost to improve the structure to serve as vehicular and pedestrian access would be in the range of $95,000 to $135,000. Based on the site inspection and engineering peer review, the Board determined that it would be economically feasible to modify the dam in order to provide access to the buildable portion of the lot from Weir Street.
FINDINGS and DECISION:
Upon a motion made by Paul K. Healey and seconded by Mario Romania, Jr., and based upon the information submitted and received at the hearings, and the deliberations and discussions of members during the hearings, the Board voted unanimously to:
FIND that access over the dam to the proposed building site could be attainable and therefore would not preclude the lot from being built upon; and
REVERSE the Building Commissioner’s determination, dated May 6, 2019, that 111 Weir Street in Residence District C does not have access from its front property line to the proposed building site.
This Decision shall not become effective until (i) the Town Clerk as certified on a copy of this decision that twenty (20) days have elapsed after the decision has been filed in the office of the Town Clerk and no appeal has been filed or that if such an appeal has been filed, that it has been dismissed or denied, and that (ii): a copy thereof has been duly recorded in the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds and indexed in the grantor index under the name of the owner of record or is recorded and noted on the owner’s certificate of title.
For the Board of Appeals,
Robyn S. Maguire
March 25, 2020