277 U.S. 183 (1928), 509, Nectow v. City of Cambridge

Docket Nº:No. 509
Citation:277 U.S. 183, 48 S.Ct. 447, 72 L.Ed. 842
Party Name:Nectow v. City of Cambridge
Case Date:May 14, 1928
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 183

277 U.S. 183 (1928)

48 S.Ct. 447, 72 L.Ed. 842



City of Cambridge

No. 509

United States Supreme Court

May 14, 1928

Argued April 19, 1928



The inclusion of private land in a residential district under a zoning ordinance, with resulting inhibition of its use for business and industrial buildings to the serious damage of the owner, violates the Fourteenth Amendment if the health, safety, convenience, or general welfare of the part of the city affected will not be promoted thereby. P. 188.

260 Mass. 441 reversed.

Error to a judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts which dismissed a bill brought in tat court by Nectow for a mandatory injunction directing the city and its building inspector to pass upon an application to erect any lawful buildings upon his land without regard to an ordinance including it within a restricted residential district.

Page 185

SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

A zoning ordinance of the City of Cambridge divides the city into three kinds of districts -- residential, business, and unrestricted. Each of these districts is subclassified in respect of the kind of buildings which way be erected. The ordinance is an elaborate one, and of the same general character as that considered by this Court in Euclid v. Ambler Co., 272 U.S. 365. In its general scope, it is conceded to be constitutional within that decision. The land of plaintiff in error was put in District R-3, in which are permitted only dwellings, hotels, clubs, churches, schools, philanthropic institutions, greenhouses and gardening, with customary incidental accessories. The attack upon the ordinance is that, as specifically applied to plaintiff in error, it deprived him of his property without due process of law in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Page 186

The suit was for a mandatory injunction directing the city and its inspector of buildings to pass upon an application of the plaintiff in error for a permit to erect any lawful buildings upon a tract of land without regard to the provisions of the ordinance including such tract within a residential district. The case was referred to a master to make and report findings of fact. After a view of the premises and the surrounding territory, and a hearing, the master made and reported his findings. The case came on to be heard by a justice of the court, who, after confirming the master's report, reported the case for the determination of the full court. Upon consideration, that court sustained the ordinance as applied to plaintiff in error, and dismissed the bill. 260 Mass. 441.

A condensed statement of facts, taken from the master's report, is all that is necessary. When the zoning ordinance was enacted, plaintiff in error was and still is the owner of a tract of land containing 140,000 square feet, of which the locus here in question is a part. The locus contains about 29,000 square feet, with a frontage on Brookline Street, lying west, of 304.75 feet, on Henry Street, lying north, of 100 feet, on the other land of the plaintiff in error, lying east, of 264 feet, and on land of the Ford Motor Company, lying...

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