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Board of Appeals



Applicant/Owner: Sharon James
360 Main Street
Hingham, MA 02043

Agent: Al Kearney, Architect
222 North Street
Hingham, Ma 02043

Property: 360 Main Street, Hingham, MA 02043

Title Reference: Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Book 32581, Page 122

Plan Reference: Plans entitled, "Plot Plan of Land,” prepared by Hoyt Land Surveying, 1287 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA, dated March 21, 2018 (1 Sheet) and “Site Detail Plan,” unsigned and undated


This matter came before the Board of Appeals (the "Board") on the application of Sharon James (the "Applicant") for a Variance from § IV-A of the Zoning By-Law (the “By-Law”) and such other relief as necessary to construct a retaining wall, in connection with construction of off street parking and a septic system, within required front and side yard setbacks at 360 Main Street in Residence District A.

The Board opened a duly noticed public hearing on May 15, 2018 at the Hingham Town Hall, 210 Central Street. The Board panel consisted of its regular members Robyn S. Maguire, Chairman, and Joseph M. Fisher, and associate member Joseph W. Freeman. The Applicant appeared to present the application. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law, subject to the conditions 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.


The subject property consists of 6,609 SF of land located on the east side of Main Street/Route 228 between the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall and the Hingham Congregational Church. The property is affected by a significant change in grade between the Main Street layout at the front and the rear of the lot. As a result of this topography, there is presently no direct vehicular access from Main Street to the property.

The proposed project would remedy the topographical issues affecting the property, in connection with the installation of a new septic system and an addition to the principal structure. A new driveway would be located to the west of the existing dwelling in order to provide two parking spaces as required by the By-Law. Relief is required to locate retaining walls, greater than 6’ in height, to support the proposed driveway and leaching field below. The wall would be located within both front and side yard setbacks and ranges in height from approximately 6.5’ closest to Main Street to 9.5’ at the rear of the driveway/leaching field.

The property is also located in the Hingham Center Local Historic District. The Historic Districts Commission issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposed improvements to the principal structure. Final design and details for the retaining walls have not been completed, but the Applicant confirmed that the wall would be screened from view. The Board discussed potential options, including decorative facing or landscaping improvements, that would minimze the appearance of the structure.


Based upon the information submitted and received, and the deliberations and discussions of Board members during the hearing, the Board has determined that:

1. Circumstances related to soil, shape, or topography especially affect the land or structures in question: The Property is affected by unusual topography as there is a significant drop in grade from Main Street frontage. This circumstance presently limits the availability of off-street parking for the existing and permitted use of the property. This condition, in combination with the location of the existing improvements on the lot, especially affects the subject property and not generally the zoning district.

2. The literal enforcement of the By-Laws would involve substantial hardship financial or otherwise. Absent relief the Applicant would be unable to create vehicular access to, and off-street parking for, the Property. A grant of a variance in this instance will allow the Applicant to bring the Property into conformance with the off-street parking requirements specified under Section V-A of the By-Law.

3. A Variance may be granted without substantial detriment to the public good. There will be no adverse effects on the neighborhood and there will be no harm to the public good resulting from the proposed construction. The proposed retaining walls, which support a driveway for vehicular access and parking and an improved wastewater disposal system, will in fact create positive impacts. The driveway will improve safe vehicular access to and from the site and the leaching field will protect public health. Additionally, the proposed improvements, as approved by the Historic Districts Commission, are consistent with the aesthetics of the surrounding historic streetscape.

4. A Variance may be granted without nullifying or substantially derogating from the intent or purposes of the By-Law. The requested relief will permit construction of a retaining wall, which modestly exceeds the permissible height exemption under the definition of “Structure” in Section VI of the By-Law, within setbacks. The proposed walls support installation of a new driveway that will create parking in compliance with Section V-A, so the granting of a dimensional variance in this instance is consistent with the purposes of the By-Law.


Upon a motion made by Joseph M. Fisher and seconded by Joseph W. Freeman, the Board voted unanimously to grant the requested Variance from § IV-A of the By-Law and such other relief as necessary to construct a retaining wall greater than 6’ in height within required front and side yard setbacks at 360 Main Street in Residence District A, subject to the following conditions:
1. The rights authorized by this Variance shall expire one year from the date this Decision is filed with the Town Clerk, unless exercised or extended in accordance with the terms of M.G.L. c. 40A, § 10.
2. The Applicant shall construct the Project in a manner consistent with the approved plans and the representations made at the hearings before the Board.
3. The Applicant shall include with the application for a Building Permit a landscaping or planting plan that will screen the retaining wall to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner.

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 County 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, Chairman
May 29, 2018