Missouri House approves bill that would lay waste to south Kansas City landfill project

The Missouri House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would effectively lay waste to a controversial landfill project proposed in south Kansas City.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Haffner, a Pleasant Hill Republican, requires that cities within one mile of a landfill built in a nearby city be allowed to sign off before a project is approved. The current buffer is half a mile, giving surrounding cities little sway over the project proposed in Kansas City.

Wednesday’s vote came after widespread public outcry from residents in Raymore, Belton, Grandview and Lee’s Summit, who argued the proposed landfill would hurt the health of their neighbors and property values.

“If this landfill goes in at this proposed location, it’s going to affect Cass County, Jackson County, the entire Kansas City regional area,” Haffner said on the floor Wednesday. “The economic impact will be felt for decades.”

Haffner’s legislation received broad support from both parties Wednesday, passing the House on a vote of 139-16. It now heads to the state Senate.

Raymore Mayor Kris Turnbow, who had previously opposed the project, in a statement Wednesday urged the state Senate to act swiftly and send the bill to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

“The future of our community is on the line,” he said.

Before the bill’s inception, rumors of a potential landfill in south Kansas City led many city leaders to voice opposition to the project. The hypothetical site borders 147th Street to the north, Horridge Road to the east, 155th Street to the south and Peterson Road to the west.

In a previous interview with The Star, Turnbow said he feared it would impact citizens’ health and economic development, saying it bordered a booming neighborhood, schools and lakes.

“It just doesn’t seem logical to anyone except the initial investors that this is an ideal spot for a landfill,” Turnbow said.

Turnbow’s fears seemed to be confirmed after local businesswoman Jennifer Monheiser told legislators in a Missouri House meeting in February that a company she owns is investigating the site for a potential landfill project.

Monheiser also owns the Mark II Transfer Station near the Truman Sports Complex. Monheiser could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Many other leaders voiced concerns, as Raymore, Belton, Grandview and Lee’s Summit have all passed resolutions opposing the landfill. Earlier this month, Kansas City passed a resolution giving the city manager six months to investigate the city’s solid waste needs while putting a hold on “the approval of any permits, plan review, project plans, and zoning changes for such landfills or transfer stations.”

Despite Kansas City’s resolution, advocates continued to fight for Haffner’s bill, hoping to quash any possibility of a waste area next to the surrounding cities.

Turnbow said that, while a landfill application would take years to process, damage is already being felt in communities, as potential builders have pulled out of projects after talk of the landfill.

“The final answer may be, ‘No,’” he said, “But look what it’s doing to us in the meantime.”

Star reporter Natalie Wallington contributed to this story.