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Notice of Decision

Special Permit


Applicant:              Hingham Farmers Market, Inc.

                                C/O Mark Cullings, President

                                44 Spring Street

                                Hingham, MA  02043

Property Owner:    Town of Hingham

                                C/O Board of Selectmen

                                210 Central Street

                                Hingham, MA  02043                                                

Subject Property:  0 Station Street (Assessors Map 61/Lot 91)

                                Hingham, MA 02043                 

Plan References:  Layout diagrams entitled “Station Street CV-19 Market Footprint” and “Station Street Post-COVID Market Footprint,” both unsigned and received March 23, 2021


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the “Board”) on the application of Hingham Farmers Market, Inc. (the “Applicant”) for a Special Permit A2 under § III-A, 4.24 of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to operate a farmers market at 0 Station Street (Map 61/Lot 91) in the Official and Open Space District.

The Applicant simultaneously filed related applications for Site Plan Approval and a Special Permit A3/Parking Determination with the Planning Board. The Planning Board voted on March 22, 2021 to approve conditionally both applications. 

On March 16, 2021, the Board opened, without the receipt of testimony, the initial hearing at a duly advertised and noticed public meeting held via Zoom as an alternate means of public access pursuant to an Order issued by the Governor of Massachusetts, dated March 12, 2020, Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law. A subsequent session was held on March 30, 2021. The Board of Appeals panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chairman, and Paul K. Healey, along with associate member Jed Ruccio.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board granted the requested Special Permit, with conditions as set forth below.

Throughout the hearing, 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 Hingham Farmers Market (the “HFM”), with authorization from the Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator, temporarily relocated the existing, permitted location of the market from the Hingham Bathing Beach to the Station Street parking lot in Spring 2020. The temporary relocation was intended to address COVID-19 related concerns. As such, the market initially functioned on a pre-order, drive-through basis. The state subsequently issued guidelines that would permit more traditional farmers market operations; however, the HFM and other officials determined that the market may not be able to operate safely at its permitted location at the Bathing Beach, given the other users of that property. The HFM therefore requested approval to open a pedestrian or open air market, with up to 22 vendors, in compliance with all state guidelines, from the Station Street parking lot for the remainder of the 2020 season. The Board heard the request on August 6, 2020 and voted to grant the requested special permit. The permit was extended by the Board to include dates into December 2020, but all approvals thereafter expired.

HFM now anticipates that COVID-19 will continue to affect its operations and ability to relocate to its previously permitted location at the Hingham Bathing Beach in the upcoming season. The present request includes two proposed layouts for the market, both within an approximate 10,500 SF area (140’x75’) within the easterly portion of the Station Street parking lot. The first continues COVID-19 safety requirements, with a maximum of 22 vendors. The second envisions additional vendors, not to exceed 34, within the same layout that would go into effect after the state lifts COVID-19 restrictions. Both layouts additionally propose a total of two booths for HFM Administration and SNAP.

The Board noted that the use of the subject public property additionally requires approval in the form of a license agreement between the Town Administrator, acting on behalf of the Town, and the HFM. As noted in the Procedural History, the Planning Board also reviewed the proposed plans, voting to issue Site Plan Approval and a Special Permit A3 on March 22, 2021, subject to certain conditions. 


Based on this information, and the fact that the HFM has temporarily operated from the Station Street parking lot in the past for certain special events and during the 2020 season, the Board made the following findings in accordance with Special Permit Approval Criteria under § I-F of the By-Law:

  1. The proposed use will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Zoning By-Law, for the following reasons: The Farmer’s Market is allowed by Special Permit in the Official and Open Space District. The proposed use will not affect the health, safety, or welfare of any prospective occupants, customers, neighbors, or the Town.     
  1. The proposed use complies with the purposes and standards of the relevant specific sections of this By-Law, for the following reasons: On March 22, 2021, the Planning Board voted pursuant to Section I-I, 6. of the By-Law to grant a conditional Site Plan Approval in connection with the proposed seasonal use. The Planning Board also voted under Section V-A of the By-Law to issue a Special Permit A3/Parking Determination. The use as proposed complies with the purposes and standards of the By-Law.
  1.  The specific site is an appropriate location for such use, structure, or condition, compatible with the characteristics of the surrounding area, for the following reasons:  The Property is an appropriate location for the proposed use. There is ample space within the Station Street parking lot to accommodate the Farmer’s Market, as well as parking for its vendors, customers, and other visitors to the downtown. 
  1. The use as developed and operated will create positive impacts or potential adverse impacts will be mitigated, for the following reasons:  The proposed use will not create adverse impacts as it is seasonal and temporary in nature. 
  1. There will be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, for the following reasons:  The Market will be located in the northern portion of the parking lot and secured by vendor vehicles, tents, cones and cording as necessary. 
  1. Adequate and appropriate facilities exist or will be provided for the proper operation of the proposed use, for the following reasons:  A portable toilet will be located within the Market layout. Vendor spaces will be demarcated with tents. No additional facilities are required for the seasonal operation of a Farmer’s Market on the Property.
  1. The proposed Project meets accepted design standards and criteria for the functional design of facilities, structures, stormwater management, and site construction, for the following reasons:  Not applicable. No changes to the property, other than temporary displacement of parking spaces, are required to operate the use.


For the reasons set forth hereinabove, and upon a motion made by Paul K. Healey and seconded by Jed Ruccio, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permit A2 under § III-A, 4.24 of the By-Law to locate a farmers market at 0 Station Street (Map 61/Lot 91) in the Official and Open Space District, subject to the following conditions: 

  1. The use shall be operated in a manner consistent with the approved plans and representations made by the applicant for this board.
  2. The Applicant may modify the particular number of vendors in the market, provided that a.)  the market is contained within the bounds depicted on the approved plan; b.) the market complies with any COVID-19 related public health rules, requirements, and procedures, as may be amended; c.) all other license, permits, and approvals are in effect; and d.) the overall number of vendors not exceed 34, exclusive of 2 administrative booths.
  3. In accordance with the provisions of the By-Law, the conditions imposed in the Planning Board Site Plan Review Decision, as voted on March 22, 2021, are binding conditions to this decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

                              For the Board of Appeals,


                              Robyn S. Maguire, Chair

                              May 3, 2021