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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Neighbors concerned about a metro meat company’s plans to expand gathered on Monday night to prepare for an upcoming public hearing with state lawmakers on the matter.
The Valley Oaks Steak Company, located in Johnson County (MO), has already started construction to expand its feedlot and processing plant and plans to increase the number of its cattle more than seven times.
While the company still needs to officially get a permit for the project, many neighbors have voiced concern.
A Facebook group called “Lone Jack Neighbors for Responsible Farming” has grown to more than 600 members, with many of them bringing up possible issues with the environment, property values, and odors coming from the facility.
A public hearing with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will be held on April 3 and concerned neighbors continued to prepare on Monday for the event.
At a gathering at Powell Gardens, residents came together with plans for the meeting with state lawmakers.
“A lot of it is strategy to figure out who is going to be talking at the hearing and in what regard,” explained Powell Gardens Executive Director and President Tabitha Schmidt. “It’s a chance for us to strategize & talk about our plan for the hearing and gather our thoughts so we can be ready to go.”
Powell Gardens staff have voiced environmental concerns about the expansion project, saying runoff from the site could contaminate groundwater.
While Valley Oaks Steak Company has said the plan will bring 50-100 jobs to the area, Schmidt told 41 Action News that concerns for the expansion outweighed the benefits.
“You would be upset if this was the Nelson Atkins. You would be upset if it was World War I. You should be upset that it’s Powell Gardens,” she explained. “We could be potentially impacted a great deal with this operation.”
Rachel Foley, who lives in Bates City, spoke at the event on Monday.
She said it was important for neighbors to keep coming together to show unity against the plan.
“We’re on a very short deadline. We need to come together,” she explained. “We need to write letters. We need to form a group and make a stand.”
Foley expressed concerns about the possible impact to wildlife from the expansion and said the company’s operations could affect property values.
“We stand for the preservation of our land. We stand for the preservation of our neighborhoods,” she explained. “I’m just absolutely blown away that they would try and put 6,999 cattle on 400 acres in the middle of a residential area.”
Moving forward, Foley said she planned to help continue gathering support.
“I think in the weeks ahead, we’re going to see many more people coming out in support of us in trying to stop this,” she explained.
Many neighbors plan to attend the public hearing with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on April 3.
It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Warrensburg Community Center.
The Valley Oaks Steak Company declined to comment for this story.