By Allen Edmonds
RAYMORE – Mayor Kris Turnbow last week vehemently defended his city’s decision to reveal what it believes are early plans to develop a landfill just north of the city’s limits, despite the denial of a Kansas City official.
According to Sherae Honeycutt, public information officer for Kansas City’s Public Works and General Services Department, “Kansas City is aware of a recent statement regarding concern surrounding a hypothetical landfill development within city limits. The City is not part of any conversations regarding possible development of a landfill. The City has not been formally approached about the possibility of such a project. There is no submission to the city for a project of this kind. If a project were to be proposed in the future, it would have pass through a significant exploratory, development, and permitting process which would take years to develop.”
The statement is concerning to Turnbow on many levels, he said.
“We’re still believing there’s some substance to it. If you read the statement, it doesn’t say they don’t have knowledge, but they don’t have knowledge of any kind of official application. They’re not telling us that they’re opposed to such an application. That’s what gives us cause for concern,” Turnbow said.
“While we have raised the opposition to a plan of this nature, they (the City of Kansas City) is not in lockstep with us and saying, ‘we agree with Raymore. If such an application were to come to us, we’d vehemently oppose it.’ That’s what we’re looking for. There may be knowledge of one percolating and they’re not willing to acknowledge that,” he said.
Turnbow said he has spoken with representatives from both Grandview and Lee’s Summit, and both have agreed to join Raymore in actively opposing any such plan should it come to fruition.
Raymore officials last week released a lengthy statement of opposition to the development of a landfill in the area, but declined to cite its sources. Turnbow continued to keep that information under wraps a week later, declining to reveal what made city officials believe the possibility was real.
When asked what made he and others at Raymore City Hall treat the rumor seriously, he paused.
“It’s hard for me to respond to that,” he said. Turnbow is a retired Naval intelligence officer, and the retired longtime Raymore Police Chief, and he cited that experience in explaining his process in making the determination.
“One source needs to be checked, and if a second source pops up, maybe we need a third source. There are three different channels, from different people, and that’s all I can give you, is that there is preliminary planning for this type of development. It is consistent. It is three separate and distinct sources of information. We’re not willing to expose those at this time. What I will tell you is that hopefully within the next week or so, we’ll be able to nail down” the actual developer of the plan.
“So from a cop’s perspective, I’m not going to tell you who our CI’s (confidential informants) are, but I will tell you who our suspects are. That’s where we are leaning in our next phase of information we’re putting out is to expose who’s involved,” he said.
He said officials do believe they are on the right track.
“We’ve got some strong suspicions, but we don’t want to expose them at this point, given they’re big hitters and we’re wanting to make sure we verify that those are the people that are involved. We will want people to know why we are as concerned as we are at this point,” Turnbow said.
He also defended the decision to make the suspicions public before everything was nailed down enough to provide the evidence.
“Frankly, we could’ve sat on it,” Turnbow said.
“But if we’re able to get that information down the road and our community knew that we sat on the information and allowed it to percolate any further, they would’ve been stringing us up by our thumbs.I want our community to be our partner, and I don’t want them or anyone else to be surprised if this comes to fruition. I don’t want it to go that far. I want whoever’s investing in this to understand what kind of fight they’re up against. The only way for us to do that is for us to expose that right now."
He said he realized even the city’s suspicion of such a plan, made public, could have a temporary effect on property values near the suspected development.
“We felt like we were cutting ourselves so we could heal at this time,” Turnbow said.
“If you look at the statement by (Honeycutt), what does she say? She says the process to get the approvals and get the development going could take ‘years.’ So what happens to us in those years? Any development would come to a screeching halt, and people’s properties would be looked at as a pariah for purchase. That’s why we wanted to expose it now. We need to get to the bottom of it now, we need to stop this, any exploration as to whether that’s a great spot to put a landfill. We want them to know it’s not a great spot – look somewhere else,” Turnbow said.
He said he understands the need for additional landfill space for the growing South Kansas City region, “and we’d like to be a partner with whoever is planning this to help them potentially locate other sites that would be more appropriate.”