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Kansas City bans any new landfill permits until 2024, in response to controversial proposal

A full dumpster is hauled away to make room for an empty replacement.
Chris Fortune
A full dumpster is hauled away to make room for an empty replacement.

The yearlong moratorium comes after residents of south Kansas City and surrounding towns voiced opposition to a new landfill proposal, which would have been built across from a school and residential area.

After months of speculation over a potential new landfill in south Kansas City, the City Council put a hard pause on approving any new permits for such a project until next June.

The ordinance passed, 8-1, with Andrea Bough, the sixth district at-large councilwoman, abstaining. Under the ordinance, the city is restricted from approving any permits, project plans or zoning changes for a landfill or solid waste separation facility through June 1, 2024.

City officials hope the moratorium will also give City Manager Brian Platt time to study alternatives to a landfill that would meet the city’s trash needs.

Kansas City Council directed Platt to begin this study in March of this year, when the City Council passed a resolution stating its opposition to the proposed landfill. He’s set to present his findings in September. The ordinance also directs officials in Kansas City and surrounding areas to host a public meeting before the report is finalized.

5th District-at-Large Councilman Lee Barnes Jr. cast a “no” vote in protest.

Thursday’s vote occurred with no discussion, following a contentious meeting of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee the week before.

At that committee meeting, Barnes said that while it’s positive Kansas City is working with nearby jurisdictions on a landfill, he’s frustrated that the spirit of regionalism is not always shown on other issues.

Rumors of a potential landfill in south Kansas City earlier this year concerned residents and cities bordering the proposed landfill site. One by one, Raymore, Grandview, Lee’s Summit, Cass County and Jackson County all passed legislation opposing the project.

Flying H Ranch is in the location of the proposed landfill in Kansas City.
Chris Fortune
KCUR 89.3
Flying H Ranch is in the location of the proposed landfill in Kansas City.

Opponents are concerned about a landfill in close proximity to schools and residential homes — believing it would drive down property values — in addition to the negative environmental impacts a landfill would bring.

“No modern city puts a landfill inside the city limits or certainly within populated areas,” said Kansas City resident Rick Meyers at the committee meeting. “We're not talking just about populated areas here. We're talking about a grade school just across the street.”

Doug Stone of the law firm Lewis Rice had urged council members to consider neighboring municipalities as it thinks about future trash policy.

“A facility such as this has a broad impact on the entire metropolitan area,” Stone said.

Talk of a new landfill has pushed Kansas City to evaluate its trash needs. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, every Kansas City resident produces an average of 7.5 pounds of waste each day. That amounts to 3.8 million pounds of trash produced every day by the city’s population of more than 500,000.

Kansas City takes the waste to two landfills located in Sugar Creek and Blue Springs. But those landfills have to close eventually — the landfill in Sugar Creek has 19 years left, according to a survey from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Kansas City also gets rid of trash at transfer stations. A transfer station consolidates waste and takes it to other landfills. It’s considered more efficient and environmentally friendly because trucks make fewer trips to the landfill.

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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