Town Government &
Department: Planning Board
Role of the Planning Board
The establishment of municipal Planning Boards is authorized by Massachusetts General Law, chapter 41, section 81A. Among its many diverse roles, the Planning Board is charged with the following duties, paraphrased here from the Mass. General Law:
- Adopting a master plan and official map of the city or town
- Conducting studies, and, when necessary, preparing plans of the resources, possibilities and needs of the city or town for submittal to the Selectmen for their consideration
- Serving as the local authority for the Subdivision Control Act; adopting Rules and
- Regulations governing the subdivision of land in the Town of Hingham; reviewing all preliminary and definitive plan submittals.
- Drafting and submitting zoning amendments for consideration by the municipality. When a zoning amendment has been put forward, the Planning Board holds the public hearing and may also report its recommendation to the local legislature.
- Serving, in some instances, as the special permit granting authority (i.e. Special Permit A-3, Flexible Residential Development)
- Serving as Site Plan Review Authority for all Special Permits A-2 under consideration by the Zoning Board of Appeals
- Is always the "party of interest" in administrative appeals, special permit applications, and variance petitions within the municipality and in adjacent cities and towns;
- Under Mass. Gen. L. ch. 40, 15C, the Scenic Roads Act, the Planning Board is enabled to recommend roads for municipal consideration, and empowers the planning board to oversee specified activities.
||Term Expires |
|Gary Tondorf-Dick, Chairman
|Sarah Corey, Clerk
|Walter Sullivan Jr.
Mary Savage-Dunham, Director of Community Planning
You can reach us at
210 Central Street, Hingham MA 02043
2014 Annual Report
The Hingham Planning Board is pleased to submit this annual report for 2014.
Hingham witnessed continued commercial, industrial, institutional and residential development over the past year. New residential construction as well as tenant fit-ups continued at Hingham Shipyard and in commercial districts throughout the Town. New development and reuse of existing buildings took place on industrial properties in Town. The Planning Board (PB) conducted eleven Site Plan Review hearings. These included the Hingham Municipal Light Plant, the Ames Chapel, a minor modification to the Lexus project, a ~5,700 Square Foot warehouse facility on Sharp Street, and the Whitney Wharf Bridge project. Three Site Plans were reviewed in conjunction with a building permit or a Special Permit A3. In addition, the PB issued six Special Permit A3 approvals in conjunction with requests for parking waivers or determinations in accordance with the Town's off-street parking regulations. Joint hearings were conducted between the PB and Zoning Board of Appeals regarding applications for a Special Permit A2, and the related Site Plan and/or Special Permit A3. Together, the Boards permitted or reviewed a PCS facility, minor modifications at the Derby Street Shoppes and Back River developments, a Health Club in South Shore Park and a ~5,500 Square Foot industrial addition. The Boards also permitted or reviewed a kayak/paddleboard program at Hingham Harbor, and the post development traffic volumes and operating conditions at the Shipyard. The PB also held joint hearings with the Conservation Commission to hear the reports and progress on the Climate Change Grant, and with the Accessory Unit Study Group to hear their reports on the proposed Zoning Amendment 2: Accessory Dwelling Units.
During 2014 the Planning Board reviewed and endorsed five Form A (Approval Not Required) plans for lot line changes, land swaps between adjacent parcels, and the creation of new lots in all areas of Town. Residential development on approved subdivision and infill lots, and in approved multifamily developments continued with activity at Fox Run, Baker Hill, Weathervane, Gardner Street, Back River, Black Rock and Hewitt's Landing. Back River, Black Rock, Fox Run, Gardner Street and Baker Hill are all nearing completion. The Planning Board also heard two new Preliminary and Definitive Subdivision applications, one consisting of two lots and the other consisting of four lots. The Planning Board received a new application for a five lot Flexible Residential Development and opened the hearings in the months leading up to Town Meeting.
In 2014 the PB adopted an update to the Subdivision Rules and Regulations closing out the effort to revise the construction standards. In the months leading up to the 2015 Town Meeting, the Planning Board discussed and held public hearings on ten proposed amendments to the Zoning By-Law (Accessory Dwelling Units; Housing and Accessory Buildings; Special Permit A3 Parking Determinations; FRD/Multi-Unit Housing Modifications; Commercial Uses under Section III-A 4; Personal Wireless Services; Changes to Nonconforming Accessory Structures; Uniformity Amendments; and, Completion of Multi-Unit Developments), and a petition article (Changes to Height Exceptions in Section IV-C.8). Prior to publication of the Warrant the PB voted to withdraw the proposed amendment on accessory dwelling units after consideration and discussion with the Accessory Unit Study Group. The consensus was that the proposal needed additional work and was not ready for Town Meeting. The Housing and Accessory Buildings article was originally related to the Accessory Unit article. The Special Permit A3 article was intended to provide clear approval criteria and correct some typographical errors.
The FRD/Multi-Unit Development article was intended to amend certain provisions of Sections IV-D and IV-E of the Hingham Zoning By-Law with respect to affordable housing, and/or who is able to prepare a preliminary FRD plan under Section IV-D, 5.a.iii. The Commercial Uses under Section III-A 4 article would amend the uses set forth in Section III-A, subsections 4.4, 4.5 and 4.7 of the Hingham Zoning Bylaw to exempt those uses from special condition 1 of Section III-B when located within the Industrial Park Zoning District. The purpose of the Personal Wireless Services article was to include public safety as an intent and purpose of the Personal Wireless Service By-Law and/or to clarify the requirements of the By-Law as they apply to cell towers. The purpose to the article on Changes to Nonconforming Accessory Structures was to amend certain provisions of the Hingham Zoning By-Law regulating the reconstruction, extension, alteration or structural change to preexisting nonconforming structures accessory to Single or Two-Family Dwellings. The purpose of the Uniformity Amendments article was to address concerns about date based criteria in the regulations, and, the purpose of the Completion of Multi-Unit Developments article was to clarify the submissions required to assess the completeness of multi-unit developments and create a process for developers to request the issuance of occupancy permits before all details of the approved plans are complete.
As with recent previous years, 2014 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, the Conservation Commission and the Accessory Unit Study Group. 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, Development and Industrial Committee, Traffic Committee, South Hingham Study Group and newly re-formed Harbor Development Task Force.
Gary Tondorf-Dick, Chairman
Sarah Corey, Clerk
Walter Sullivan, Jr.