Around the suburbs of Kansas City, there's no shortage of housing developments where you can buy an empty lot and are expected to use the land to build a house.

Would there be any zoning law preventing me from buying such an empty lot and turning it into a giant garden or a private park? Not a commercial farm, but a private thing.

2 Answers 2


Zoning is controlled by the municipality (and possibly state, given where KC is) so you would have to check the rules for the municipality of interest and look at the specific zoning designation (e.g. RP-OE, R-2, MXD). Here for example is a page of code from Overland Park, which tells you that RP-4 land can be used for a private park, but agriculture is not a listed permitted use. You might argue with city hall over whether a giant garden is agriculture, and you might even win the argument (if it is a garden where you don't harvest product). Private / non-commercial is not likely to be the controlling factor over agricultural use.

  • Yes you are correct about the private and non-commercial use case.
    – Putvi
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:26
  • So I can plant a bunch of trees, but those trees can't bear fruit. Alright then.
    – Tim Morris
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:30
  • Well, you can probably plant fruit trees on the plot where you build your house. But you can't plant rows of fruit trees in a manner that indicates an agricultural use. This is where arguing with city hall comes in: in what way does your usage constitute a permitted use (residential... with no residence?).
    – user6726
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:44
  • The example linked actually says, "Private parks [...] and other recreational facilities within the project for the use of project residents" which to me implies that you would have to establish residence elsewhere inside the project to use one of the lots as a private park for yourself.
    – wemily
    Nov 1, 2019 at 5:02

It's not just an expectation to build a house, the plots may have deed restrictions which mandate it. Especially in a housing development, deed restrictions are common to make sure owners are building homes to match the neighborhood. Likely restrictions would include breaking ground on a house (of an approved design) within 12 to 24 months of purchase of the lot.

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