orphan lot
n. In a subdivision, a plot of land marked as a housing lot, but considered unbuildable because of size, terrain, or environmental constraints.

Example Citations:
Michael Cassettari likes the woodsy feel of the vacant lot at the end of Rowland Avenue. . . . “That lot is part of the fabric of the neighborhood,” he said. “Before we bought, I pulled into the end of the street, and the first thing I see is open space. When we checked the zoning map, we found it had been ruled unbuildable by the town. That attracted us. We always assumed it could not be built on.” In the past, development bypassed these odd parcels of land, which came to be called marginal lots, wood lots, remainder lots, nonconforming lots, unconforming lots, landlocked lots, widow lots, porkchop lots, and now, “orphan lots.”
—Kerry Drohan, “Developers Line Up to Adopt ‘Orphan’ House Lots,” The Boston Globe, January 16, 2000

One issue is “orphan” lots — small vacant lots where homes were demolished that have gone unsold because the price is significantly raised by delinquent back taxes. The lots are often too small to build on under today’s regulations.
—Linda Martz, “Longtime neighbors work to clean up West Fifth Street neighborhood,” Mansfield News Journal, October 6, 2004

Earliest Citation:
James Loeppert of Loeppert & Associates, Crystal Lake, who represented the property’s owner, James Barancik, said 267 acres will be developed as office and manufacturing sites and 89 acres will go to retail, restaurant and hotel uses.

A 2-acre “orphan lot” on the east side of Illinois 47 would get a convenience store or filling station, Loeppert said.
—Dave Barnes, “358-Acre Commercial Project Gains Zoning Panel’s Backing,” Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1996

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