Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co.
272 U.S. 365 (1926)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365 (1926)

Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co.

No. 31

Argued January 27, 1926

Reargued October 12, 1926

Decided November 22, 1926

272 U.S. 365

Syllabus

1. A suit to enjoin the enforcement of a zoning ordinance with respect to the plaintiff's land need not be preceded by any application on his part for a building permit, or for relief under the ordinance from the board which administers it, where the gravamen of the bill is that the ordinance, of its own force, operates unconstitutionally to reduce the value of the land and destroy its marketability, and the attack is not against specific provisions, but against the ordinance in its entirety. P. 272 U. S. 386.

2. While the meaning of constitutional guaranties never varies, the scope of their application must expand or contract to meet the new and different conditions which are constantly coming within the field of their operation. P. 272 U. S. 386.

Page 272 U. S. 366

3. The question whether the power exists to forbid the erection of a building of a particular kind or for a particular use, like the question whether a particular thing is a nuisance, is to be determined by considering the building or the thing not abstractly, but in connection with the circumstances and the locality. P. 272 U. S. 387.

4. If the validity of the legislative classification for zoning purposes be fairly debatable, the legislative judgment must be allowed to control. P. 272 U. S. 388.

5. No serious difference of opinion exists in respect of the validity of laws and regulations fixing the height of buildings within reasonable limits, the character of materials and methods of construction, and the adjoining area which must be left open in order to minimize the danger of fire or collapse, the evils of over-crowding, and the like, and excluding from residential sections offensive trades, industries, and structures likely to create nuisances. P. 272 U. S. 388.

6. The same power may be extended to a general exclusion from residential districts of all industrial establishments, though some may not be dangerous or offensive; for the inclusion of a reasonable margin to insure effective enforcement will not put upon a law, otherwise valid, the stamp of invalidity. P. 272 U. S. 388.

7. The power to relegate industrial establishments to localities separate from residential sections is not to be denied upon the ground that its exercise will divert a flow of industrial development from the course which it would follow and will thereby injure the complaining land owner. P. 272 U. S. 389.

8. The police power supports also, generally speaking, an ordinance forbidding the erection in designated residential districts, of business houses, retail stores and shops, and other like establishments, also of apartment houses in detached-house sections -- since such ordinances, apart from special applications, cannot be declared clearly arbitrary and unreasonable, and without substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare. P. 272 U. S. 390.

9. Where an injunction is sought against such an ordinance upon the broad ground that its mere existence and threatened enforcement, by materially and adversely affecting values and curtailing the opportunities of the market, constitute a present and irreparable injury, the court, finding the ordinance in its general scope and dominant features valid, will not scrutinize its provisions sentence by sentence to ascertain by a process of piecemeal dissection whether there may be, here and there, provisions of a minor character, or relating to matters of administration, or not shown

Page 272 U. S. 367

to contribute to the injury complained of, which, if attacked separately, might not withstand the test of constitutionality. P. 272 U. S. 395.

297 Fed. 307, reversed.

APPEAL from a decree of the District Court enjoining the Village and its Building Inspector from enforcing a zoning ordinance. The suit was brought by an owner of unimproved land within the corporate limits of the village, who sought the relief upon the ground that, because of the building restrictions imposed, the ordinance operated to reduce the normal value of his property and to deprive him of liberty and property without due process of law.

Page 272 U. S. 379

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Primary Holding

Since they are not arbitrary or unreasonable, zoning ordinances are constitutional under the police power of local governments.