Caputo v. Board of Appeals of Somerville

Citation330 Mass. 107,111 N.E.2d 674
Decision Date02 April 1953
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 674

111 N.E.2d 674
330 Mass. 107

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex.
Argued March 3, 1953.
Decided April 2, 1953.

[330 Mass. 108]

Page 675

Allan R. Kingston, Somerville, for plaintiff.

Robert J. Muldoon, City Sol., Somerville, for respondent.

Before [330 Mass. 107] QUA, C. J., and WILKINS, SPALDING, WILLIAMS and COUNIHAN, JJ.

[330 Mass. 108] WILKINS, Justice.

This is a bill in equity on appeal from a decision of the defendant board of appeals upholding the refusal of the commissioner of public buildings of the city of Somerville to grant a permit to the plaintiff to erect a traveling hoist and crane on land owned by him at 9 Tyler Street in that city. G.L.(Ter.Ed.) c. 40, § 30, as appearing in St.1933, c. 269, § 1, and as subsequently amended. In the Superior Court a decree was entered annulling the decision of the defendant board and ordering the board to direct the commissioner to issue the permit and a certificate of occupancy. The defendant board appealed.

The plaintiff is the owner and operator of a business of fabricating and cutting and processing of steel at 10 Tyler Street. The land at 9 Tyler Street is directly across the street, and contains about 4,620 square feet. It is in a block bounded by Somerville Avenue, Dane Street, Tyler Street, and Vine Street, which, when the bill was filed, was zoned as 'Industrial A,' where the plaintiff's intended use was permitted. The plaintiff's purpose was to store steel and iron used in the business and to erect the crane to handle this material.

The plaintiff commenced construction in March, 1952, without obtaining a permit. On April 1 he filed an application[330 Mass. 109] for one with the commissioner of public buildings. On May 1 the commissioner sent the plaintiff a notice reading in part: 'Your application for a permit to erect a structure and occupy property at 9 Tyler Street, Somerville, cannot be granted as the issuance of this permit in the opinion of the writer

Page 676

would be detrimental to the neighborhood due to the proximity of this proposed building to the church.'

The defendant board, to which the plaintiff appealed, held a public hearing on May 26. The commissioner there testified that he would have granted the permit had no objection been raised. The other evidence at the hearing did not attack the structure as such, and revealed no danger to the public in the plaintiff's intended use. The defendant board took no action until ordered to do so by the Superior Court. On July 7 the board voted to sustain the action of the commissioner and 'refused the appeal' on the ground that the intended construction and use of the lot would be a detriment to the community.

On June 5 the board of aldermen voted that the planning board arrange for the immediate consideration of a proposal for the rezoning as a 'Residence B District' of the area bounded by Somerville Avenue, Dane Street, Tyler Street, and Vine Street, 'so that this matter may be acted upon without delay by this board of aldermen as the proposed rezoning of this particular area is particularly urgent.' On July 10 the planning board held a hearing and on July 28 sent the board of aldermen 'an opinion' reading in part: 'In rendering its opinion, this board has considered the recent recommendation of the board of aldermen that the planning board review and revise the present zoning ordinance so that the entire city may be rezoned. The planning board commends this official recognition by your honorable board that the use of land in Somerville has, in the past twenty-six years undergone considerable change, and that the zoning ordinance of the city should therefore be brought up to date. Since the work is now under way that will enable us to meet the request of your board, the [330 Mass. 110] planning board wishes to state that it considers it inadvisable to recommend a spot zone change at this time. Such a recommendation by the planning board, if made now, would make extremely difficult the duty of this board to review fairly the zoning of the city as a whole.'

The foregoing facts are from the report of a master, who further found that, under the building code of the city, if it appears from applications and drawings submitted by an applicant that the ordinances will be complied with, a permit for the proposed construction 'shall be granted' by the commissioner; that the plaintiff's application showed such compliance; and that the commissioner so admitted.

Other facts appearing in a stipulation filed subsequent to the filing of the master's report are these. The report of the planning board was received on August 12 by the board of aldermen which, pursuant to a notice published in a local newspaper, held a public hearing on September 11. On that date the board of aldermen unanimously voted, with nine out of eleven members present, to change the area bounded by Somerville Avenue, Dane Street, Vine Street and Tyler Street from an 'Industry A District' to a 'Residence B District.' The mayor approved the ordinance on September 22. The area rezoned measures approximately 400 feet by 380 feet and contains approximately 150,000 square feet. The plaintiff's intended use of the land at 9 Tyler Street is not permitted in a 'Residence B District.'

It was the statutory duty of the commissioner of public buildings to grant the plaintiff a permit for the erection of a structure which was in conformity with the ordinances. G.L.(Ter.Ed.) c. 40, § 29, as appearing in St.1933, c. 269, § 1. His failure so to do was also a violation of the building code of the city. In the beginning, accordingly, his action was palpably invalid. The action of the defendant board was likewise in error. Its duty was to 'make such order or decision as ought to be made,' and it has 'all the powers of the officer from whom the appeal is taken and may issue [330 Mass. 111] or direct the issue of a permit.' G.L.(Ter.Ed.) c. 40, § 30, as appearing in St.1933, c. 269, § 1, and as amended. Hence, as matters stood at the time of its decision, the defendant board should have decided that the plaintiff was entitled to the permit.

By the time the final decree was entered on September 30, however, the zoning ordinance had been purportedly

Page 677

amended on September 22. The fact that the plaintiff filed his application for a permit before the ordinance was amended gave him no vested rights. Spector v. Building Inspector of Milton, 250 Mass. 63, 71, 145 N.E. 265. See Brett v. Building Commissioner of Brookline, 250 Mass. 73, 79-80, 145 N.E. 269; G.L. (Ter.Ed.) c. 40, § 28, as...

To continue reading

Request your trial
39 cases
  • Johnson v. Martignetti
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 11, 1978
    ...possesses a particularly broad latitude of discretion where the public interest is involved, Caputo v. Board of Appeals of Somerville, 330 Mass. 107, 112, 111 N.E.2d 674 (1953), and may mould each decree to the necessities of each case. 6 See Food Fair Stores, [374 Mass. 795] Inc. v. Food F......
  • Layton v. Howard County, 116, Sept. Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 9, 2007
    ...of Safety & Permits, 166 So.2d 520 (La.App. 1964); Thomas v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals, 381 A.2d 643 (Me.1978); Caputo v. Board of Appeals, 330 Mass. 107, 111 N.E.2d 674 (1953); Town Pump, Inc. v. Bd. of Adjustment of City of Red Lodge, Montana, 292 Mont. 6, 971 P.2d 349 (1998); Kruvant v. Mayo......
  • Framingham Clinic, Inc. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of Framingham
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • January 9, 1981
    ...Fellsway Realty Corp. v. Building Comm'r of Medford, supra 332 Mass. at 492, 125 N.E.2d 791; Caputo v. Board of Appeals of Somerville, 330 Mass. 107, 110, 111 N.E.2d 674 (1953); Ford, Judicial Review in Zoning Variance Cases and Related Matters, 61 Mass.L.Q. 24, 27-28 (1976). We have repeat......
  • Perry v. Perry
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 30, 1959
    ...a temporary receiver. Mount Hope Finishing Co. v. Daylor, 335 Mass. 84, 86-87, 138 N.E.2d 373; Caputo v. Board of Appeals of Somerville, 330 Mass. 107, 111, 111 N.E.2d 674 6. We have considered all the issues argued by the petitioner and have examined all the findings to which he has referr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT