Neighbor across the street denied standing to challenge a zoning variance

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set a very high bar to obtain standing to object to a building permit. In Murchison v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Sherborn, 2020 WL 4012766 (Mass. 2020), owners across the street from an irregularly shaped lot objected to granting the owner a permit to build on it. The court found no harm that would justify granting the neighbors the right to challenge the zoning decision, holding that they were not “aggrieved” by the decision as required by state law.


The court rejected the contention that construction would make the neighborhood overcrowded, increase traffic, noise, and interfere with light, or diminish property values. The court specifically stated that “diminution in value itself is not an interest protected under” the zoning law. This view is an outlier and not shared by most courts interpreting zoning acts.

See also: Zoning