Raymore approves deal that will block proposed KC landfill if it holds. Here’s how

The Raymore City Council on Monday unanimously approved a settlement that – if it holds – will prevent a landfill in south Kansas City that nearby residents vehemently oppose.

The vote, coming in a packed special City Council meeting, marked the culmination of two years of fighting over the proposed landfill that has riven the area and divided Missouri lawmakers.

But the deal is contingent on the Missouri General Assembly passing legislation that would give Raymore and other cities within a mile of any proposed landfill the power to block it. The current buffer is half a mile, which gives surrounding cities little sway over landfills built nearby.

The settlement agreement would send $3.3 million to the developers of the project. The developers would also agree to sell a piece of the property to Raymore for $440,000 that the city has long wanted to help develop into a northern access point into the city. In turn, the city will place restrictive covenants on the site of the proposed landfill, preventing the land from being developed into a landfill.

Residents in Raymore, Grandview, Belton and Lee’s Summit have fiercely fought against the landfill, which they say poses risks to their health and property values. Critics created a political action committee and hired several lobbyists to encourage Missouri lawmakers to pass the bill.

“I have seen firsthand the anguish that our residents have gone through for more than a year and a half fighting this battle. And I don’t believe there’s any prices on the long-term health, safety and well-being of our community,” Mayor Kristofer Turnbow said.

The landfill project is spearheaded by local businesswoman Jennifer Monheiser with KC Recycle & Waste Solutions, which has hired 19 lobbyists since last year to oppose the statewide legislation.

The proposed site of the landfill would have been near the high-end Creekmoor golf course community, bordering 147th Street to the north, Horridge Road to the east, 155th Street to the south and Peterson Road to the west.

Raymore city council members approved the agreement with little debate. While some residents expressed concerns during public comments about whether the agreement will permanently stop the threat of a landfill near the city, the comments were in general positive.

Several dozen residents who crowded into the City Council chamber gave the council members a standing ovation after the final vote.

“This is not the end of the line. We’re almost there, we’ve got a few more steps to go – I realize that,” Kevin Kellogg, a Raymore resident, said.

Lawmakers have battled over the legislation the past two years amid an intense lobbying effort inside the Missouri Capitol. While the House passed a version of the bill earlier this year, it ran into fierce resistance in the Senate earlier this month. Senators opposed to the bill have called it a property rights issue, arguing that the state should not be getting involved in a local dispute.

Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, an Arnold Republican, spent hours filibustering the bill this month, reading aloud from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. Coleman, who is running for Missouri secretary of state, said Friday that she was not previously aware of any negotiations between the developer and Raymore.

“I am encouraged to hear that they’re negotiating because I think that’s a more appropriate path forward if that’s what the community wants to see happen,” Coleman said. She said it was “a little premature” to say whether she would let the bill pass if the agreement was approved.

Sen. Steve Roberts, a St. Louis Democrat, also fought against the legislation earlier this month, arguing that it was an example of the state changing state law to stop a particular project which he said was unfair.

Roberts said on Monday that he wanted to review the agreement from Raymore before he agreed to letting the legislation pass.

“I don’t want to commit not knowing the final product,” he said. “But conceptually, I think as long as we’re not using the state legislature to box people out, that’s my biggest concern. And if this fixes that issue, then I probably would be all right with letting the bill pass, but I want to see the legislation before we vote on it and make a decision.”

House Majority Leader Jonathan Patterson, a Lee’s Summit Republican, said earlier on Monday that he was encouraged by the proposed deal.

Patterson, who voted in favor of the bill to give cities the power to kill the project, signaled that the deal may result in some changes to the legislation.

“It would be contingent on passage of one of the landfill bills,” he said of the agreement from Raymore. “I do think that it may have some amendments that we’ll look through. But I’m very much in favor of getting it passed.”

Supporters of the legislation have criticized senators from outside the Kansas City area for railing against the bill. Sen. Mike Cierpiot, a Lee’s Summit Republican who filed a version of the bill, pointed to “senatorial courtesy” earlier this month, a tradition of deferring to senators from a given area regarding policies and issues that affect that area.

The dispute became a flashpoint in the final weeks of last year’s legislative session amid filibusters from senators in the St. Louis area. Sen. Rick Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican who also filed a version of the legislation, then launched a filibuster of his own in an attempt to force lawmakers to take up the bill.

Brattin ultimately sat down after money was placed in the state budget for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to study possible effects of a landfill. However, Republican Gov. Mike Parson later vetoed that provision.

The Kansas City Council later agreed to halt all approvals of landfill proposals until June 2024 after Mayor Quinton Lucas met with state senators about the issue.