By Kalie Hudson
Of Powell Gardens
January 29, 2019, Kingsville, Mo. – A Jackson County Circuit Court Judge has granted Powell Gardens’ request for a preliminary injunction effectively halting the expansion of Valley Oaks Steak Company’s confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) until full resolution of the civil case. This order forces Valley Oaks Steak Company to reduce the size of their operation from 6,999 head to fewer than 999 head of cattle. The permit for the expansion, granted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, under the direction of Director, Carol Comer, has been largely contested by Powell Gardens and area residents due to the impact the operation will have on air-quality and the environment.
“Powell Gardens and the surrounding community are grateful for this favorable ruling,” says Tabitha Schmidt, CEO and president. “This confirms that our concerns are valid and that the Valley Oaks expansion would have a negative effect in the area.”
This is the second time in recent months that Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Del Murro has ruled in agreement with Powell Gardens regarding the potentially harmful effects the expansion of this operation could have on the community’s environment. These rulings follow a December decision by the Missouri Clean Water Commission to reverse the original permit approval by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
“The Judge made the right decision based on the facts and the law,” says Chuck Hatfield, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP. “Missouri’s nuisance law is a good neighbor law. Valley Oaks is not a good neighbor and they are interfering with the rights of others. The law is there to protect people like our clients.”
Last spring, Powell Gardens’ concerns over the expansion were voiced along with nearly 1,400 petitioners from Lone Jack and the surrounding community. Concerns included environmental and human health concerns related to water quality, air pollution, as well as increased traffic, strain on infrastructure and declining property values.
Valley Oaks has submitted a new permit application with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and awaits a decision. Counsel for Valley Oaks and Powell Gardens will meet with the Jackson County Circuit Court judge on February 8 to set a date for the civil trial to begin.
Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, is located on 970 acres of lush, rolling hills just east of Kansas City. Known for its world-class architecture and stunning display gardens, Powell Gardens attracts nearly 100,000 visitors per year and offers classes, performances and festivals year-round. In 2009, the Heartland Harvest Garden, a 12-acre expansion that encompasses the Nation’s largest edible landscape, opened to the public.