Doliner v. Planning Bd. of Millis

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation343 Mass. 1,175 N.E.2d 919
Decision Date09 June 1961
PartiesJulius DOLINER, trustee, v. PLANNING BOARD OF MILLIS.

Page 919

175 N.E.2d 919
343 Mass. 1
Julius DOLINER, trustee,
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Norfolk.
Argued May 3, 1961.
Decided June 9, 1961.

Page 920

[343 Mass. 2] John J. Fitzpatrick, Woburn (Eugene L. Tougas, Waltham, with him), for plaintiff.

Samuel H. Cohen, Boston (Anthony T. Petrocca, Boston, with him), for defendant.

Before [343 Mass. 1] WILKINS, C. J., and SPALDING, CUTTER, KIRK and SPIEGEL, JJ.

[343 Mass. 2] CUTTER, Justice.

These two appeals from action of the planning board of Millis are brought under the subdivision control law, G.L. c. 41, §§ 81K to 81GG, as amended, see especially § 81BB. Doliner alleged in each appeal that he, as trustee, owned land in Millis and that, on April 8, 1959, he had applied for approval of a definitive subdivision plan. In one appeal filed June 2, 1959, Doliner also alleged that by letter dated May 26, 1959, the planning board had informed him of the disapproval of the plan for reasons stated below (see Doliner v. Town Clerk of Millis, Mass., 175 N.E.2d 925). In the other appeal, filed June 10, 1959, Doliner alleged that the planning board had failed 'to take any valid final action concerning' his subdivision plan 'within sixty days following submission thereof as required by' G.L. c. 41, § 81U.

The trial judge made the following findings. On April 8, 1959, a month after a town meeting had adopted a new zoning by-law, Doliner filed with the planning board, and on April 9, 1959, with the town board of health, applications for approval of his subdivision plan. He notified the town clerk of this action. The board of health made no report upon this plan to the planning board within forty-five days of the date of the filing. On May 26, 1959, the planning [343 Mass. 3] board notified the town clerk and Doliner that it had disapproved the plan because the '[l]ot sizes fail to comply with the [z]oning [b]y-[l]aw and [m]ap as accepted * * * at the [a]nnual [t]own [m]eeting of March 9, 1959.' The planning board held no public hearing prior to this disapproval.

At the town meeting on March 9, 1959, the town voted to adopt the proposed zoning by-law then on file with the town clerk and to repeal the then existing zoning by-law passed in 1956, 'such repeal to be effective only if and when' the new by-law should take effect after approval by the Attorney General and after publication. See G.L. c. 40, § 32 (as amended through St.1952, c. 337). On April 1, 1959, the town clerk forwarded the new by-law to the Attorney General, who approved it by letter dated June 9, 1959.

The judge further found that Doliner's plan was 'filed in accordance with the rules and regulations and the zoning [by-]laws * * * in existence' on April 8, 1959, and that the new zoning by-law was not then in effect. He purported to 'find,' in effect thereby ruling, (a) 'that no valid action * * * was taken by the * * * planning board within sixty days after' Doliner's submission of his subdivision plan; (b) that the amended zoning by-law 'did not control' Doliner's plan; (c) that the board of health's failure to report within forty-five days 'is deemed * * * approval of the * * * plan'; and (d) 'that the failure of the planning board to approve or disapprove the * * * plan within sixty days * * * is deemed * * * approval * * * and such approval became final on that date [June 8, 1959].'

A final decree was entered that the plan was 'deemed approved' by the planning board and the board of health 'by reason of * * * [their] failure * * * to act thereon within the time prescribed in' G.L. c. 41, § 81U; that this approval has become final; and that 'the lots shown on * * *

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[the] plan conform to the residential use requirements of the zoning by-law * * * in effect on June 8, 1959.' The planning board appealed.

1. Pertinent provisions of the subdivision control law [343 Mass. 4] appear in the margin. 1 At the time of Doliner's filing of his definitive plan on April 8, 1959, and on May 26, 1959, when the planning board notified him and the town clerk of its disapproval, none of the 1960 amendments of c. 41 (mentioned in footnote 1) had taken effect. Some of the pertinent statutory provisions were considered by this court in Daley Const. Co. Inc. v. Planning Bd. of Randolph,[343 Mass. 5] 340 Mass. 149, 151-156, 163 N.E.2d 27, and in Pieper v. Planning Bd. of Southborough, 340 Mass. 157, 163 N.E.2d 14.

The Pieper case decided (see 340 Mass. at pages 159-161, 163 N.E.2d 14, 17) that under § 81U (as amended through St.1955, c. 324) disapproval of a plan by the

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planning board without granting a public hearing was not to 'be treated as a nullity.' Statute 1958, c. 377, § 1, made changes in the language of § 81U, including the substitution of 'shall' for 'may' in the language with respect to approval or disapproval of a subdivision plan. These changes do not require a different conclusion (from that in the Pieper case) as to the effect of planning board disapproval of a subdivision plan without holding the public hearing to which an applicant is entitled. Such disapproval, if intended by the planning board as final board action (and the letter of May 26, 1959, seems to have been so intended), operates as a disapproval and constitutes final board action, despite the failure to hold the public hearing contemplated by the statute.

The trial judge thus incorrectly ruled that the planning board had approved Doliner's plan by failing to act on or before June 8. The board's action on May 26 not only gave Doliner the right to appeal to the Superior Court under § 81BB (as amended through St.1957, c. 199, § 2) but also prevented approval of the plan through lapse of time without action.

2. The planning board on May 26, 1959, disapproved Doliner's subdivision plan because it failed to comply with the new zoning by-law which had not then become effective under G.L. c. 40, § 32, as amended. Whether this was proper action, apart from the failure of the planning board to grant a public hearing upon the plan, depends upon the interpretation of several...

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36 cases
  • School Committee of Springfield v. Board of Ed.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • September 7, 1972
    ...§ 1J merely places an additional method of accomplishing this end in the hands of the board. See Doliner v. Planning Bd. of Millis, 343 Mass. 1, 5, 175 N.E.2d 919; Town Crier, Inc. v. Chief of Police of Weston, Mass. (Mass. Adv.Sh. (1972) 891, 896, 282 N.E.2d 379, and cases cited) (statutes......
  • Carstensen v. Cambridge Zoning Bd. of Appeals
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • February 13, 1981
    ...or by-law considered at the hearing. G. L. c. 40A, § 6 (as appearing in St. 1975, c. 808, § 3). See Doliner v. Planning Bd. of Millis, 343 Mass. 1, 6-7, 175 N.E.2d 919 (1961) (This and the following cases deal with G. L. c. 40A, § 11, as appearing in St. 1954, c. 368, § 2, the predecessor o......
  • Collura v. Town of Arlington
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 3, 1975
    ...that the requisite procedures for adoption of the amendment are followed without unreasonable delay. Doliner v. Planning Bd. of Millis, 343 Mass. 1, 6--7, 175 N.E.2d 919 (1961). See Smith v. Board of Appeals of Brookline,--- Mass. ---, ---, f 316 N.E.2d 501 (1974). The mere filing of an app......
  • Ouellette v. Building Inspector of Quincy
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 29, 1972
    ...the building inspector in refusing to issue a permit should be affirmed on the basis of our decision in Doliner v. Planning Bd. of Millis, 343 Mass. 1, 5--8, 175 N.E.2d 919. We disagree. The rationale of the Doliner case has no application In the Doliner case, this court held that, under st......
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