Raymore city officials want to put the kibosh on a KC landfill proposal.

If you drive through Raymore and its surrounding environs, you’ll see “Kill the Fill” and “Don’t Dump on Us” yard signs, signaling an intense battle that has consumed the area over a proposed landfill.

Communities south of KC have been fighting plans by a private company to build a solid-waste landfill in a part of KC that borders Jackson and Cass counties. For the residents of Raymore, the landfill is practically on their doorstep, with the proposed 460-acre landfill visible from city limits.

The proposal immediately began raising numerous safety, economic and environmental concerns due to its close proximity to neighborhoods, schools and even a golf course. At a public hearing in February 2023, one resident told the Raymore City Council in disbelief, “My backyard looks at the proposed site.”

According to a Missouri Waste Composition study, regional landfills are currently at 67 percent capacity and are projected to be at full capacity in about 14 years.

“It’s not just our residents in Raymore,” Raymore Mayor Kris Turnbow told KCUR’s Up To Date. “It’s also the people that live in the south Kansas City area, the Lee’s Summit areas, the Grandview [and] Belton [areas]. They’re all concerned about their health and safety and moving forward with a positive economic development plan in that area, which definitely would not include a landfill.” 

KC Recycle & Waste Solutions, owned by Jennifer and Aden Monheiser, is spearheading the plans for the proposed landfill. Although the Monheisers have not sought an environment permit or rezoning for the property yet, they have been acquiring land for the project and enlisting the help of lobbyists.

The proposed KC site is located on privately owned land between Missouri Route 150 and 155th Street, just far enough from neighboring cities that a Missouri statute requiring approval from an adjacent municipality does not apply. But that doesn’t mean people’s lives won’t be affected. According to the U.S. Census, 4,100 people live within a half mile of the proposed site, and 19,100 people live within a one-mile radius. At a Raymore City Council meeting, one resident said, “It is a huge implication for people’s futures—not just now, but for generations to come.”

The developer has not undergone any formal permitting process with the city or the state and did not approach surrounding municipalities before looking to develop the site. But rumors of a potential landfill surfaced, and soon after, Raymore city officials filed a formal statute expressing their opposition. Several other municipalities, school districts, HOAs and community groups followed suit. So far, at least 19 groups have filed formal oppositions and even formed the Kill the Fill PAC.

While Raymore and surrounding communities have clearly voiced their objections, they have only been able to stall the project, not kill it. Their new plan of action is to change the law.

Earlier this year, Missouri Rep. Mike Haffner (R-55) and Sen. Rick Brattin (R-31) sponsored House Bill No. 909, which would increase the required buffer zone for solid waste disposal from a half mile to a mile, preventing landfills from being built in people’s backyards. The bill received triumphant support, with constituents flocking to the Capitol in an impressive grassroots campaign and submitting more than 500 testimonials supporting the bill. It ultimately passed the House in a 139-16 vote. 

However, the victory was short-lived when the legislation hit a wall and was filibustered in the Senate. The eight-hour filibuster was led by Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-22). “We should have a serious policy discussion about setting standards for what the rules should be regarding where landfills should be based on actual environmental impacts,” she said. Coleman represents a sector of Jefferson County, a district nearly 250 miles away from the proposed landfill site.

As of now, landfill plans have been put on pause. The Kansas City Council passed an ordinance banning the approval of landfills, solid waste facilities, permits and zoning changes for such projects. The moratorium expires June 1, 2024. During that time, the Mid-America Regional Council’s Solid Waste Management District is conducting a regional landfill capacity study and is expected to present findings in January 2024. As the summer deadline approaches, public officials and concerned community members are preparing to fight for a more permanent solution.

Mayor Turnbow hopes they will have another shot at passing the legislation in the next session. In his July State of the City address, Turnbow said: “We got somewhat of a late start last session, but we are going back to Jefferson City in the next session to continue our pursuit of an amendment to the current state statute. The work isn’t done, and I assure you the work won’t stop until the threat of a landfill on our city’s border no longer exists.” Mayor Turnbow is hopeful that the bill will get to the Missouri Senate floor for a vote by mid-February. 

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