Missouri’s Clean Water Commission has rejected the proposed expansion of Valley Oaks Steak Co.’s feedlot near Lone Jack, reversing earlier state approval.
In June, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a permit to Valley Oaks to expand its feedlot from 999 head to 6,999 head. The company announced its expansion plans in February, which prompted more than 1,000 letters of protest to be sent to the Missouri DNR during a public comment period.
Valley Oaks feedlot and processing facility is located 30 miles southeast of Kansas City, and three miles from Powell Gardens, a botanical garden that draws about 100,000 visitors a year. About 800 homes are located within three miles of the feedlot, and many residents complain the feedlot expansion will harm the environment and lower property values. Supporters claim the expansion will bring jobs to the area.
An appeal of June’s DNR approval for the expansion led to a state administrative review panel in October temporarily stopping the company’s expansion pending a final ruling by the Clean Water Commission. At that time, Valley Oaks said in a statement the panel’s action was “contrary to the law” and focused on “minor technical issues.”
This week’s rejection of the feedlot’s expansion permit may not be the final word. Valley Oaks could pursue appellate court options.
According to the Kansas City Star, Valley Oaks attorney Jennifer Griffin argued in front of the Clean Water Commission that neighbors’ objections are “based on speculative and unfounded concerns about the operation of the facility and the potential future violations, an incomplete first round of neighbor notice letters, and a typo in the application’s name.”
Opponents of the feedlot filled many seats in the room, cheering on comments they thought supported their cause and murmuring “no” during Griffin’s presentation.
A residential district on the rim of the feedlot includes houses valued at $400,000 or more. Homeowners displayed yard signs objecting to the “CAFO,” short for concentrated animal feeding operation.