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Planning Board

Site Plan Review in Association with the Modification of a Special Permit A2

for Back River Condominium Trust and Back River Land LLC

224 Beal Street



Applicants:         Back River Condominium Trust
                            PO Box 841
                            Hingham, MA 02043

                            Back River Land LLC 
                            c/o James O'Brien, Project Manager
                           18 Backriver Road
                           Hingham, MA 02043

Premises:         224 Beal Street
                          Hingham, MA 02043

Deed Reference:    Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 35234, Page 59

Date:            April 15, 2014

In accordance with Section I-I of the Zoning By-Law, the Hingham Planning Board conducted Site Plan Review relative to the application of Back River Condominium Trust and Back River Land LLC (the Applicant) to modify the Special Permit A2 for the Back River Development at 224 Beal Street filed February 1, 2006 and amended July 12, 2006, December 4, 2006 and February 1, 2011. 

Site Plan Review hearings on this matter were properly posted and held at a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Zoning Board on March 24, 2014, and regularly scheduled meetings of the Planning Board on April 7 and April 14, 2014 at Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street.  The public hearing and deliberations were conducted by Planning Board members William Ramsey, Chairman, Gary Tondorf-Dick, Clerk, Judy Sneath, Sarah Corey, and Walter Sullivan.  Mr. Tondorf-Dick was not present at the April 7, 2014 meeting, but completed a so-called “Mulllin Affidavit” in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 39, Section 23 prior to participation in the April 14, 2014 meeting.  Susan Murphy, Special Counsel, was in attendance at the meetings of March 24, and April 14, 2014.  Patrick Brennan, P.E of Amory Engineers, P.C. was the peer review engineer for the Board.

Back River Land LLC was represented by Thomas Hastings and James O'Brien and its counsel Mark Kablack of M.A. Kablack & Associates.  The Condominium Trust was represented by Trustee James Claypool, its counsel Jeffrey Tocchio of Drohan, Tocchio and Morgan PC, and project engineer Thomas Pozerski, PE, of Merrill Corporation.


The Applicant requested Planning Board approval of the modifications noted as A, A1, B, C, C1, and D listed on the plan titled "LAYOUT PLAN, BACK RIVER, BEAL STREET, HINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS APPLICANT: BACKRIVER CONDOMINIUM TRUST 18 BACK RIVER ROAD HINGHAM, MA 02043”, prepared by Merrill Engineers and Land Surveyors, dated January 7, 2014, revised to April 4, 2014 (“Modification Plan”), and as more particularly described in testimony before the Planning Board at the public hearings.


The Planning Board made the following findings under the Site Plan Review criteria:

a.    protection of abutting properties against detrimental uses by provision for surface water drainage, fire hydrant locations, sound and site buffers, and preservation of views, light and air, and protection of abutting properties from negative impacts from artificial outdoor site lighting.

The Board made no findings on this criteria.

b.    convenience and safety of vehicular and pedestrian movement within the site and on adjacent streets; the location of driveway openings in relation to traffic or to adjacent streets, taking account of grades, sight distances and distances between such driveway entrances, exits and the nearest existing street or highway intersections; sufficiency of access for service, utility and emergency vehicles;

Modification request A: "Remove Sloped Granite Curbing (SGC) and Replace with Cape Cod berm (CCB).  Remove five ‘wide sidewalk and reference to proposed 8’ wide crosswalk and Modification request A1: "Install a 65' long pedestrian walkway consisting of dry laid bluestone pavers.”

The Board discussed the public safety interest in having a sidewalk but noted that it did not continue through the entire development and the residents expressed strong opposition to installation of the sidewalk.  In addition, Mr. Ramsey noted that the Traffic Committee had recommended to the Board of Selectmen to not place a crosswalk across Beal Street at Back River for safety reasons.  The Board found that the walkway proposed as Modification A1 provided a good solution and was a possible opportunity to direct pedestrian traffic safely to the park parking lot for access to Beal Street or possibly the School Bus provided that the walkway would meets all applicable ADA requirements.
The Board discussed the proposed change in curbing.  One Board member felt that leaving some distance of the curb as SGC would help slow traffic flow and provide a transition into the development and objected to its removal.  The majority of the Board found that the change to CCB would not create safety hazards. 

Modification request B: "Reduce pavement width from 24' wide to 20' wide, same as Heron and Osprey Way". The Board found that the traffic volume within the development was low, and, the request would reduce impervious surface which is good for the environment.

Modification request C: "Remove pavement and install emergency access material similar to Emergency Access between Osprey Way and Heron Way (opposite Building F)". The Board found that the change is supported by the Hingham Fire Department, in a letter to the Applicant dated March 12, 2013, is in accordance with the Conservation Commission's Order of Conditions on the project, and previously approved by the Bare Cove Park Committee because it was removing pavement and replacing it with a more permeable material.

Modification request C1: "Emergency access radius from Backriver Road revised in accordance with Hingham Fire Department Letter dated March 25, 2014 and SK-3 Backriver Rd-Fire Access, backriver Road, Hingham, MA 02043, Prepared by Merrill Corp, Dated March 18, 2014". The Board found that the change is in accordance with the input from the Fire Department for public safety purposes. 

c.    adequacy of the arrangement of parking, loading spaces and traffic patterns in relation to the proposed uses of the premises; compliance with the off-street parking requirements of this By-Law;

Modification request D: "Additional Paving". The Applicant stated for the record that the additional paving would be used for the creation of two additional parking spaces.  The Board found that the additional of the paved area for parking was acceptable and requested a revised parking count for the development.

d.    adequacy of open space and setbacks, including adequacy of landscaping of such areas;

The Board made no finding on this criteria.

e.    adequacy of the methods of disposal of refuse and other wastes resulting from the uses permitted on the site;

The Board made no findings on this criteria.

f.    prevention or mitigation of adverse impacts on the Town’s resources, including, without limitation, water supply, wastewater facilities, energy and public works and public safety resources;

The Board made no findings on this criteria.

g.    assurance of positive stormwater drainage and snow-melt run-off from buildings, driveways and from all parking and loading areas on the site, and prevention of erosion, sedimentation and stormwater pollution and management problems through site design and erosion controls in accordance with the most current versions of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Stormwater Management Policy and Standards, and Massachusetts Erosion and Sediment Control Guidelines.

The Board’s peer review engineer submitted a letter dated April 4, 2014, that the proposed site plan modifications should not adversely surface water drainage for the project. The Board made no findings on this criteria.

h.     protection of natural and historic features including minimizing:  the volume of cut and fill, the number of removed trees of 6 inches caliper or larger, the removal of stone walls, and the obstruction of scenic views from publicly accessible locations: and

The Board made no findings on this criteria.

i.     minimizing unreasonable departure from the character and scale of buildings in the vicinity or as previously existing on or approved for the site.

The Board made no findings on this criteria.


It was moved, seconded, and SO VOTED as follows:

1.    To eliminate the sidewalk and crosswalk (in the location noted as “A” on the Modification Plan), subject to construction of the path noted on the Modification Plan as “A1”in accordance with all applicable laws and codes, including accessibility codes. The design of the path shall be subject to the approval of the Building Commissioner.  

2.    To remove the sloped granite curbing and replace it with cape cod berm (in the location noted as “A” on the Modification Plan).

3.    To reduce pavement with from 24’ to 20’ making it the same as Heron Way and Osprey Way (in the area noted as “B” on Modification Plan).

4.    To remove pavement and install emergency access material similar to emergency access between Osprey Way and Heron Way (Opposite Building F) (in the area noted as “C” on the Modification Plan).

5.    To modify emergency access radius from Backriver Road in accordance with Hingham Fire Department letter dated March 25, 2014 (in the area noted as “C1” on the Modification Plan).

6.    To add 2 parking spaces (in the area noted as “D” on the Modification Plan), provided that Applicant shall provide an updated parking count to the Board.

William Ramsey, Chairman
Hingham Planning Board
April 15, 2014