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Nectow v. City of Cambridge

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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.277 U.S. 183, 48 S. Ct. 447, 72 L. Ed. 842 (1928)

Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff sued for a mandatory injunction directing the city to pass Plaintiff’s application for a permit to erect any lawful buildings upon a tract of land without regard to the inclusion of the tract of land in a zoning ordinance, which zoned the land residential.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The determination of public officers should not be set aside unless it is clear that their action has no foundation in reason and is a mere arbitrary or irrational exercise of power having no substantial relation to the public health, the public morals, the public safety or the public welfare.


Facts. The Plaintiff sued for a mandatory injunction, based on alleged unconstitutionality of a zoning ordinance as depriving Plaintiff of property without due process of law, directing the city to pass an application of the Plaintiff for a permit to erect any lawful buildings upon a tract of land without regard to the inclusion of the tract of land in a zoning ordinance, which zoned the land residential. The land in question is 140,000 square feet that was zoned as residential despite being surrounded by land belonging to the Ford Motor Company and the Boston & Albany Railroad. Opposite of the tract there are some residences, which are in the same district. Before the passage of the ordinance in question, the Plaintiff had a contract to sell the greater part of the entire tract for $63,000. Because of the restriction, the buyer backed out of the deal. The master appointed to the case found that no practical use can be made of Plaintiff’s land under the ordinance and that the zoning
of Plaintiff’s land in a residential district would not promote the health, safety and general welfare of the public. The master’s findings were not followed by the full court below, which found that the zoning ordinance was constitutional as applied to the Plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue. Is the zoning ordinance constitutional as applied to Plaintiff’s land?
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