KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Conversations surrounding the potential development of a new south Kansas City landfill have made it from Kansas City area city councils to the Missouri House in Jefferson City.
A set of lots in south Kansas City, Missouri, sit empty right now, but could soon be full of trash and the perspectives are piling up.
Developers want the landfill to sit on 960 acres of privately-owned land between Peterson and Horridge roads, and Missouri 150 Highway and 155th Street.
KSHB 41 is taking this story 360. In this story you will hear from:
- Neighbors opposed to the landfill
- Cities in and surrounding the proposed site
- State representatives sponsoring a landfill bill
- Testimony from the potential developer
Town Hall meetings in Kansas City area from earlier this year featured citizens airing their grievances.
KSHB 41 listened in on some of those meetings, including one on Feb. 16, 2023.
"The amount of schools, homes and businesses so close to it frankly scares me to death," a concerned Raytown citizen said.
They weren't alone in opposing the landfill.
“My sister and I are fourth generation, (we) still own 49 acres of that land and we're still farming," another concerned Raytown resident said.
Scott Ward and his wife have owned their family farm for 10 years. They’re worried about what it will do to their agro-tourism business.
“I just think its short-sighted for Kansas City to put a landfill in right here," Ward said at the February meeting. "I just can't imagine people coming here to meditate, do yoga and things like that and just have that smell."
The proposed landfill site is sandwiched in-between a handful of Kansas City area suburbs.
Raymore and its citizens being the most vocal among them.
Kristofer Turnbow, the mayor of Raymore, is another person who's publicly opposed the landfill.
"It's likely going to have some kind of degradation on home values, property values in our area," Turnbow said in an interview with KSHB 41. “We see this as beginning it's not an end to anything."
There are now only two landfills in the Kansas City area after the City of Lee’s Summit’s landfill reached capacity a few years ago.
One option is in Sugar Creek and another in Johnson County. There are a few others in the region, including St. Joseph and Sedalia.
The State of Missouri oversees how the landfills operate, while local municipalities are in charge of planning and zoning.
When it comes to regional planning, Solid Waste Management Districts step in. It’s part of the Mid-America regional council.
In a Kansas City, Missouri, City Council meeting earlier this year, the council said it isn’t approving any landfill at the proposed site.
“Although the city hasn't received any formal application, we are going to be on record that we are in opposition to it," said councilman Kevin McManus.
KCMO City Manager Brian Platt was tasked with looking into what their needs really look like. The report could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.
"It does kind of the kick the can down the road, it doesn't give any closure to the discussion about this particular site,” Turnbow said.
Lawmakers in Jefferson City, Missouri, put a lid on the conversation in the Missouri House. A bill effectively killing the landfill location is now in the hands of the Senate.
It is a one-word change, moving the buffer zone for a landfill to a community from a half-mile to one-mile.
If passed, it would require surrounding suburbs like Raymore to sign off on the site.
“There has not been proper transparency in this situation,” Rep. Mike Haffner, who sponsored the bill and represents Missouri's 55th district, said.
Haffner said plans for a south Kansas City landfill were just rumors until 18 lobbyists showed up at the Missouri Capitol.
A grassroots effort began when constituents made thousands of calls, emails and visits.
“That impacts legislation,” Haffner said. “That voice needs to be heard in Jefferson City because we are the voice of the people.”
The owner of the potential landfill made a trip to the Missouri Capitol for a hearing in February.
“We did not sign up for the rules to be changed on us after our investment,” said Jennifer Monheiser, owner of KC Recycling and Waste Solutions.
Her comment was a reference to the bill now in the Senate, increasing the distance between cities and landfills.
The Monheiser family currently own a waste transfer station in Kansas City where trash is repackaged and shipped out to landfills outside of town.
In her testimony, she said the landfill site is a solution to a regional problem.
“If we don’t start with a solution now, we are going to be in a situation in our region that is going to be catastrophic,” Monheiser said. “Which is why we are starting this process now. We are going to have to have somewhere to take our own trash from our own transfer station.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources said the landfill in Sugar Creek has 19 years left on its life.
Regional options a bit farther out have 20 and 30 years left before the trash reaches its highest point.
As part of KSHB 41 News' commitment to providing context and depth in our reporting, we've excited to share our latest project, which we're calling 360. This project takes stories and topics that our communities are talking about and explores different perspectives on the issue. You can be a part of the process by e-mailing your ideas and thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.