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Notice of Decision
IN THE MATTER OF:
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
SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS:
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:
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:
For the Board of Appeals,
Robyn S. Maguire, Chair
May 3, 2021