Nectow v Cambridge 277 U.S. 183 (1928)
Transcript Nectow v Cambridge 277 U.S. 183 (1928)
Nectow v Cambridge
277 U.S. 183 (1928)
The other shoe drops.
Ford Motor Company
• City of Cambridge zoned – maintained the
existing use of – the western portion of a
larger tract in southern Cambridge.
• Property joins Ford Motor assembly plant.
• After City widens Brookline Street,
residential parcel will be only 65’ wide.
Impact on owner
• Nectow had a contract to sell the entire 3.3
acre tract for $63,000 – $650,000 in 2002.
• This is $200,000 per acre (2002).
• Contract revoked because of residential
zoning on the subject 0.75 acre part of the
• No information as to what the property
would be worth as residential.
• This is the sequel to
• Nectow is an as applied
attack on the application
of Cambridge’s zoning
ordinance to plaintiff’s
land – or a part of
“An inspection of a plat of the city upon which
the zoning districts are outlined, taken in
connection with the master's findings, shows
with reasonable certainty that the inclusion of
the locus in question is not indispensable
to the general plan.
Look at Cambridge’s zoning map
“An inspection of a plat of the city upon which the
zoning districts are outlined, taken in connection
with the master's findings, shows with reasonable
certainty that the inclusion of the locus in question
is not indispensable to the general plan.
The boundary line of the residential district before
reaching the locus runs for some distance along the
streets, and to exclude the locus from the
residential district requires only that such line shall
be continued 100 feet further along Henry street
and thence south along Brookline street.”
• “There does not appear to be any reason
why this should not be done.”
Here Southerland is raising a
point that will be a Scalia
theme on land use matters
not be warranted
judgment for that of the zoning authorities
primarily charged with the duty and
responsibility of determining the question.”
• “That the invasion of the property of
plaintiff . . . was serious and highly
injurious is clearly established; and,
since a necessary basis for the support of
that invasion is wanting,
the action of the zoning authorities comes
within the ban of the Fourteenth
Amendment and cannot be sustained.”
• “But that is not all.”
• “The governmental power to interfere by
zoning regulations with the general rights
of the land owner by restricting the
character of his use, is not unlimited, and
other questions aside,
• such restriction cannot be imposed if it
does not bear a substantial relation to the
public health, safety, morals, or general
No substantial relation to H. S & W
Ford Motor Company
The Denominator Issue Part II
• The 3.3 acre site as Industrial:
– 3.3 acres * $196,970 =
• The 3.3 acre site as zoned:
– 2.56 acres * $196,970 =
– 0.75 acres * nil =
What is the extent of diminution?
• Did the site diminish by 22% in value?
• Did the regulated property diminish by
100% in value?
• The answer to both is yes!