In response to: Spot Zoning posted by Marla on November 09, 1998 at 23:13:34:

Originally posted by (User Above)
Does anyone have any information about how spot zoning is treated in your town? Seems that the legal folks are sort of wishy-washy when it comes to illegal spot zoning.

I live in Massachusetts, so unless there's a federal law against it, I'd be interested in hearing from Massachusetts folks.
Actually, there are Federal issues. If zoning is used to limit the property rights for a specific parcel, it becomes easier to argue that it's an unconstitutional taking of property.

I don't know if there are Federal issues in the converse situation, where a zoning change grants additional rights to a specific parcel, but in Massachusetts it's generally illegal for a unicipality to take action to benefit an individual outside specific contexts. And, in Massachusetts, zoning must serve some legitimate government interest ("protect the health, safety and general welfare of their present and future inhabitants"), which is harder to justify in the case of spot zoning.

Finally, if you're in a town (as opposed to a city), any changes to bylaws must be approved by the (state) Attorney General. The Attorney General's office will question changes that affect only a single property, or even a small number of parcels, though the changes will probably be allowed if there is a plausible explanation. However, the AG does have the authority to reject bylaws believed to be illegal. This gets interesting, because any such AG rejection is likely to be based on their opinion of the way a court would rule, and thus open to some enlightening litigation.

Gary