Kansas City neighbors planted in dispute over whether farmers market should be in subdivision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The normally sleepy subdivision of Terrace Lake Gardens is in an uproar.

One homeowner says she should be allowed to host a farmers' market, as well as a farm-to-table dinner at her seven-acre farm in south Kansas City. Her homeowner's association disagrees.

"You do it. You've got a fight on your hands," Deborah Borel can be heard shouting in a video clip from last Wednesday, June 21st.

Borel and her family have owned Loud House Farm on E. 113th Street for 40 years. She says she's championing a cause -- urban agriculture. Borel wants permission to host a weekly farmer's market on their property, which sits inside the Terrace Lake Gardens neighborhood. Some neighbors disagree, and they've asked the city to take their side.

You're liable to find anything growing on Deborah Borel's farm. She says she's lost count of the dozens of vegetable varieties they grow. However, hard feelings seem to be growing too. That same video clip, which was recorded during the June 21st edition of her farmers' market, shows an argument that took place when neighbors approached her family to protest the market, and a dinner Borel was hosting.

"I have nothing against your farm," Deb Eddings, Terrace Lake Gardens Neighborhood Association President, told Borel.

Eddings and other home association board members arrived, bringing representatives from the Kansas City Health Department with them. Borel says as many as 50 people showed up to the market during its three hours of operation, as she and three other farmers sold their wares.

"The neighbors love it! (Eddings is) a neighbor. She doesn't love it," Borel told FOX 4 News.

Eddings and others complain that Borel's residence, and the remainder of the neighborhood, isn't zoned for business. Kansas City's Zoning Department has designated it for residential use instead. Eddings and board vice-president, Tom Schick, says they're also opposed to Borel's dinner -- a farm-to-table based gathering.

Borel says that meeting was a lecture on local food, but board members argue Borel was actually selling dinners at $50 per plate, as indicated in an advertisement in the Martin City Telegraph. The ad included the $50 price, and promised paired drinks and a cocktail stroll. Schick complains that Borel isn't licensed to operate a restaurant either.

"We are working with the city right now and we're hoping to get a zoning adjustment for some of the events and activities we want to have on the farm," Borel said.

Schick told FOX 4 News the board is fine with the market, to some extent, but Loud House Farm isn't zoned to sell food or alcoholic drinks. Rod Richardson, a spokesperson for the Kansas City government, says city officials are still looking into this situation. Here's Richardson's statement, as sent to FOX 4 News:

The City is reviewing the operations of the property located at 4300 E. 113th St. Staff has contacted the property owner to obtain a more complete picture of all the activities occurring on the site. In addition, we are in the process of setting up a meeting with the owner and pertinent City Departments to review the uses on the property. At this time, the uses appear to include, but may not be limited to, single-family residential, urban agriculture, a farmer’s market, event space, and keeping of farm animals on the property. Further investigation of the uses of the property from a holistic perspective will help staff to determine if there is, or is not, compliance with City codes and ordinances. Staff still needs to visit the property to help collect a better overall sense of the current uses and existing property conditions.

"It's my family's home and it's our livelihood," Claire Walker, Borel's daughter, commented.

Walker, who represents one of four generations of her family living on the farm, says she has faith city officials will see things her family's way, and support urban farming.

"We've ruffled some feathers, but we think, in the long run, this is going to really work out to be a positive thing for the city and everybody," Walker said.

Borel says she has a meeting with city officials scheduled for later this week. In the meantime, the family is collecting signatures in support of their effort to continue selling and serving those meals, as well as conducting the farmer's market.