Kansas City claims it knows nothing about a new landfill, but nearby cities are already fighting it
Surrounding cities have voiced opposition to a possible landfill location in southeast Kansas City, Missouri, along Route 150 and 155th Street. Kansas City said there are no plans for this project, but Missouri representatives say an application could be filed soon.
One after another, neighboring cities have been lining up to oppose a potential landfill at the southeast edge of Kansas City.
Citing threats to economic development, noise and odor pollution and proximity to homes, Raymore, Grandview, Lee’s Summit and Cass County have all unanimously passed legislation to stall such a project. Peculiar passed similar legislation and Jackson County is discussing its own.
But there’s one issue: Kansas City officials say they have not been approached about a landfill project.
“The City is not part of any conversations regarding possible development of a landfill,” Kansas City press secretary Sherae Honeycutt said in an email to KCUR. “The City has not been formally approached about the possibility of such a project. There is no submission to the city for a project of this kind.”
According to the City of Raymore, a phone conversation arranged by the U.S. Rep. Mark Alford, a Missouri Republican, on Feb. 4 between Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Raymore Mayor Kris Turnbow resulted in both mayors agreeing that they were opposed to the potential landfill location along Route 150. Alford represents District 4, which includes Cass County.
An application has not been filed for a landfill in the area with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) and the permit process takes around five years to complete. A developer would need to begin the application process and also need to verify the land complies with Kansas City’s health codes and ordinances before receiving a permit.
Kansas City’s denials have not stopped Raymore from taking action. The Raymore City Council voted unanimously on Jan. 23 to approve a $65,000 contract with Missouri Capital Solutions for legal and public relations services.
Turnbow opposes the possible landfill due to its proximity to an area that has been expanding residentially, which includes a lake and Creekmoor Golf Course.
A landfill application may be imminent
Turnbow had been in communication with Paul Dusselier, a landowner at 14900 Horridge Road in Kansas City, Missouri. The two occasionally messaged back and forth for over a month on matters unrelated to the landfill, until Turnbow sent a message to Dusselier saying he received a call from Scott Higgs of Flying H Ranch, which is also located at the possible landfill location.
Dusselier told Turbow in a text message that he needed to stop discussing the landfill.
“Kris, I need to let you know that I have signed a nondisclosure agreement and really can’t discuss any of this with anyone,” Dusselier said to Turnbow in a text obtained via a Sunshine Law request.
Turnbow was discouraged by the non-disclosure agreement.
“Well, I have to say I’m extremely disappointed. I had hoped we had forged somewhat of a friendship and understanding about the needs of our community,” Turbow said to Dusselier in a responding text message.
Turnbow then asked if Dusselier’s non-disclosure agreement restricted him from entertaining other offers. Dusselier said he did not know and would ask. Turnbow responded saying investors may be willing to block the landfill project. Then communication ceased.
An attempt to reach Paul Dusselier went unanswered.
Turnbow said the most significant proof of a landfill possibly in the works came from a visit to the Missouri statehouse, where state representatives told him about efforts to lobby for a landfill.
“We found out from our elected officials that the investor that was considering putting a landfill there had been down the day before us and actually had been talking to the same legislators, espousing the virtues of a landfill at that location and the need for one at that location,” he said.
Rep. Sherri Gallick, a Belton Republican, and Rep. Kemp Strickler, a Lee’s Summit Democrat, were among the representatives who met in January with the potential landfill developer, Aden Monheiser, his wife Jennifer and their lobbyist, David Willis of Catlyst Group.
After the conversation with the Monheisers, Strickler said he “absolutely” believes they will file a landfill application soon. Gallick also left the conversation believing an application could come soon.
“I would say it's more than kicking the tires once you decided to go ahead and hire a lobbyist to lobby legislators,” Strickler said. “But yes, they said they definitely had plans to take it forward to Kansas City Council for approval and that they were looking at that actually fairly soon this year.”
Aden Monheiser is listed as the operations director at Encore Environmental Services, a restoration and construction company. Jennifer Monheiser owns Mark II Transfer Station in Kansas City, Missouri.
A transfer station consolidates waste and hauls it to landfills, composting facilities, or waste-to-energy plants, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“I think they were trying to show that they're not some gigantic, out-of-state, huge company, which I don't have an issue with that part of it at all,” Strickler said of the meeting. “I just had a concern about the landfill and the impact of that in that area, regardless of who is developing it.”
KCUR called a number belonging to Aden Monheiser, but Monheiser ended the call when a reporter said they were calling to discuss the rumor of a landfill.
Gallick represents part of Cass and Bates counties and Strickler represents part of Jackson County, just east of where the possible landfill could be placed.
Gallick and Strickler co-sponsor House Bill 909, which would ensure a landfill permit would not be issued for solid waste disposal in a “service area with a population greater than 400,000 located in more than one county, if the site is within one mile of another municipality” without their approval. Current law says a landfill can’t be within half a mile of another municipality without their approval.
Impact of the possible landfill
The talk of a landfill has already had an economic impact in Raymore. Several builders have pulled out of a Creekmoor development project, and two home sales have failed due to these talks, according to Turnbow.
“People have invested millions in their homes down there,” Turnbow said. “We have million, million and a half dollar homes that sit on the lake directly adjacent to the subject property in question. Naturally, those people are concerned.”
Grandview Mayor Leonard Jones believes the search for information has gone further than just city officials, suggesting homeowners and businesses in Grandview are doing their own research.
“We have not heard directly, ourselves,” he said. “However, I think a number of individuals have been trying to grab information to confirm or deny, and it appears that a lot of information is not forthcoming to give everybody a warm and comfortable feeling that this landfill development is not coming.”
Jones is waiting to determine if the MoDNR receives any applications for a landfill before taking action.
“At this point, Grandview is going to continue to monitor the situation,” he said. “Then decide if we need to follow suit and prepare our own legal and advisory committee to move forward accordingly.”
Bipartisan opposition to the landfill
Strickler spoke of the importance of the bipartisan bill, which two Democrats and two Republicans have co-sponsored. It has since been re-referred to the Local Government Committee.
“Both sides of the aisle are concerned about this and the way it's happening,” Strickler said. “I haven't been up here a long time, but I think it is a relatively unique situation, but speaks to the importance and our concerns from all the representatives involved.”
Gallick shared similar concerns of economic impact, and referenced Turnbow’s account of builders pulling out of Raymore.
“There would be a direct negative impact for economic development in Cass County,” Gallick said. “And I would assume that is the same for Lee’s Summit area and for Longview Lake.”
Bipartisan efforts have been encouraging to Gallick, who has heard from residents in Cass and Jackson counties.
“When I first was approached with this information, the one thing that I said is I want to talk to the surrounding representatives,” Gallick said. “And really, it is bipartisan. I mean, I have not heard of anyone that's really for this.”
Kit Starr and Shawn Polowniak are the owners of Raptor Recycle and Transfer, a transfer station in Grandview. They said the business moves millions of pounds of trash a day and has the capacity to handle all of the trash in the southern portion of Kansas City, where the possible landfill would go.
“We're operating at less than 20% capacity right now,” Starr said. “There's just not that much trash in that part of the city. We can absolutely handle it all.”
Starr acknowledged a landfill in the proposed location would have a negative impact on business, but Polowniak said a landfill being built around where people live is uncommon in modern development.
According to the MoDNR Solid Waste Management Map, Courtney Ridge Landfill in Sugar Creek, Missouri, is the closest sanitary landfill, which is 17 miles from downtown Kansas City.
“In cities around America, landfills are not being built where people live. It's just not happening,” Polowniak said. “So the fact that this is even being proposed in this location is preposterous.”