LONE JACK, Mo. — Opponents of a metro meat company’s controversial expansion plan scored a victory on Monday after the Missouri Clean Water Commission rejected the project from moving forward.
Months ago, the Valley Oaks Steak Company started an expansion in Johnson County, Missouri that would have allowed the company to boost the amount of cattle at the site from 999 to nearly 7,000.
Groups of neighbors soon took issue with the project and voiced concerns about possible environmental problems, impacts to property values, and bad odors coming from the site.
Karen Lux, whose parents have a farm that borders the Valley Oaks expansion site, said the project could have a lasting impact on the area.
“I was at my office in Lone Jack, which is about two miles west of the facility, and the smell was just horrific,” she said. “The families want to pass their land down to their children and grandchildren and now inheriting that property may not be a positive situation.”
Lux has served as one of the organizers helping to coordinate the response from concerned neighbors.
“We’ve been involved in so many things and had meetings,” she said. “We just continue to constantly communicate and educate people and get the word out about how this is affecting our families.”
On Tuesday, she said the decision from the Missouri Clean Water Commission gave the neighbors some momentum.
“It’d be amazing if that (decision) could be enforced and if it was an end to our battle in our process,” she said.
The fight over the plans remains far from over.
Valley Oaks has already refiled a permit for expansion at its site.
While opponents have voiced concerns about the plan, supporters have said the project could help local food producers and create jobs.
Following the commission’s ruling on Monday, the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association sent a statement to 41 Action News saying Valley Oaks would keep moving forward.
“This decision in no way means this family cattle operation did anything wrong or isn’t an asset to Missouri,” read the statement from Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Mike Deering. “This decision simply told this family they need to make revisions to their permit and refile it. They have done that and I am confident they will receive a new permit.”
Valley Oaks did not respond to a request for comment from 41 Action News.
While the battle over the project still faces an uncertain end, Karen Lux said neighbors would continue to fight back.
“We’ve gone through this entire process for almost a year now,” she said. “We will continue to go through it again.”