Annual Report

2015 Annual Report 

The Hingham Planning Board is pleased to submit this Annual Report for 2015.

Hingham witnessed continued development and permitting activity across all sectors (commercial, industrial, institutional and residential) over the past year.  New development and reuse of existing buildings took place on commercial and industrial properties across Town.  

The Planning Board conducted twenty Site Plan Review hearings.  Fourteen were in conjunction with Special Permits, and six were not. These included the Notre Dame fields project, a minor modification to the Lexus project, a modification to the High School fields approval, the installation of a buried seawall and parking lot reconfiguration proposed by the Trustees of the Bathing Beach, a storage shed at the Meadows, installation of a new canopy at a gas station, a building addition for the Hingham Historical Society, a Bed & Breakfast Establishment, a mixed use commercial/warehouse building, and conversion of a retail space into a mixed use residential/commercial building.  In addition, the Planning Board issued seven Special Permit A3 approvals in conjunction with requests for parking waivers or determinations in accordance with the Town's off-street parking regulations, and one Special Permit A3 approval for a Preliminary Flexible Residential Development.  

Joint hearings were conducted between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding applications for a Special Permit A2, and the related Site Plan and/or Special Permit A3 on an as needed basis.  Together the Boards permitted additional antennae at an existing PCS location, an excavation and grading project at a residential location, a Bed and Breakfast Establishment, minor modifications at the Meadows Condominium, and the Herb Chambers Lexus Dealership.  They also permitted both a major and a minor modification at the Hingham Shipyard, as well as a modification at the Derby Street Shoppes, and the reuse of 425 Lincoln Street.  

The Planning Board also held joint hearings with the Conservation Commission to hear the reports and progress on the Trails Master Plan, and a joint hearing with the Board of Selectmen to fill the seat left vacant with the resignation of Walter Sullivan, Jr.  The Boards voted to appoint Jennifer M. Gay Smith to fill the vacancy in January 2016.

The Planning Board reviewed eight Form A (Approval Not Required) plans and endorsed seven of them for lot line changes, land swaps between adjacent parcels, or the creation of new lots.  One Form A submittal was withdrawn.  The Planning Board also acted on one new Preliminary Subdivision, one Definitive Subdivision application, and two applications for modifications to existing subdivisions.  Residential development on approved subdivision and infill lots, and in approved multifamily developments continued with activity at Baker Hill, Weathervane, Back River, Black Rock and Hewitt's Landing.  Back River, Black Rock, and Hewitt's Landing are essentially completed, and, the Baker Hill subdivision is nearing completion.  Construction at Damon Farms is progressing steadily, and construction is preparing to start on two of the three new houses at the recently approved Lewis Court subdivision.     

In the months leading up to the 2016 Town Meeting, the Planning Board discussed and held public hearings on nine proposed amendments to the Zoning By-Law (Media Broadcasting or Production Studios, Common Driveways, Floodplain Protection Overlay District, Bed and Breakfast Establishments, Section II & III, Commercial Parking Requirements and Table of Parking Dimensions, Lot Shape Requirements, Uniformity Amendments, and, Changes to Nonconforming Structures Accessory to Single Family and Two-Family Dwellings).  The purpose of the Media Broadcasting or Production Studios article is to broaden the existing use "Local Cable Access Broadcasting Studio" by providing a definition, and increasing the zoning districts where it could be permitted.  The purpose of the Common Driveways article is to provide a process for review and approval of common driveways, as well as clear standards.  The purpose of the Floodplain Protection Overlay District article is to revise the references to the FEMA map panels, correct naming conventions, revise the associated map, and add a clearly stated purpose to the section.  The purpose of the Bed and Breakfast Establishments article is to insert this use into the table in Section III-A.  The purpose of the Section II & III article is primarily clean up for consistency with naming conventions and removing dates.  The purpose of the Commercial Parking Requirements and Table of Parking Dimensions article is to consider changes to parking requirements for commercial uses, and, changes to the Table of Parking Dimensions.  The purpose of the Lot Shape Requirements article is to remove the dimensional requirement of a "circle" from the frontage definition, and, standardize lot shape requirements across all zoning districts.  The purpose of the Uniformity Amendments is to remove date based criteria from two sections in the by-law:  bed and breakfast establishments and two family dwellings, because having date based criteria is thought to be inconsistent with state law.  The purpose of Changes to Nonconforming Structures Accessory to Single Family and Two-Family Dwellings is to provide a more appropriate permitting mechanism for proposed changes to nonconforming residential garages, sheds, porches, and other accessory structures by reviewing them with a Special Permit process. 

As with recent previous years, 2015 was marked by productive and collaborative relationships between the Planning Board and a variety of other Town boards and committees, including the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Conservation Commission.  Planning Board members or their designees continue to play an active role as members of several Town committees, including the Community Preservation Committee, Open Space Committee, Trails Planning working group, Development and Industrial Committee, Traffic Committee, South Hingham Study Group and the newly re-formed Harbor Development Task Force.  

Sarah H. Corey, Chairman
Judith Sneath, Clerk
Gary Tondorf-Dick
William Ramsey 
Jennifer M. Gay Smith