Press Release Aug. 19, 2019
Kalie Hudson, Director, Visitor Experience & Marketing
Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden
August 19, 2019, Kingsville, Mo. – Powell Gardens Board of Directors and staff were surprised Monday afternoon with the announcement of the closure of the Valley Oaks Steak Company via a Facebook post.
The cultural non-profit, located about 20 minutes east of Lee’s Summit in Kingsville, Mo, has been embroiled in a legal battle with Valley Oaks for the past year and half as they opposed the expansion of a contained animal feeding operation sited on the Valley Oaks property which includes housing and processing of cattle on-site and would have increased the number of cattle on their 400 acres from nearly 900 to 6,999.
“This announcement caught us by surprise,” says Tabitha Schmidt, CEO and president. “The past year and a half has been incredibly taxing on our Board of Directors, Staff, and surrounding community as we have navigated the threat of this proposed expansion.”
As stewards of the 970-acre, non-profit botanical garden, Powell Gardens Board of Director’s and staff were alarmed when they initially learned of Valley Oaks’ plan to expand. The size of the facility, the scope of operations (the company would house, slaughter and sell product all from the same facility), and the close proximity of the facility to Powell Gardens and to nearly 800 homes in the residential heart of Lone Jack, Mo, were among the many reasons why legal action against the expansion was pursued.
“The timing of Valley Oaks’ closure was sudden, but it’s the right outcome for the community,” says Aimee Davenport, a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP. “We always found it odd that Valley Oaks believed this neighborhood was a good place for a CAFO and we’re glad that every judge that ruled on the matter agreed. We’re proud that Powell Gardens stood with its neighbors to preserve the integrity and environment in the community. We’re now waiting for Valley Oaks to confirm their closing with the judges in all pending actions.”
Powell Gardens was awarded a preliminary injunction by the Jackson County Circuit Court prohibiting the expansion in early 2019. The permit for the expansion would have made Valley Oaks the largest beef CAFO in the state of Missouri. 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. A scheduled court date to decide on the permanent injunction is currently scheduled in Jackson County Circuit Court in February of 2020.
Staff and board members of Powell Gardens are cautiously optimistic that this could be the end of this long battle. The Gardens is in an exciting stage of growth and new opportunity and this closure bodes well for the future.
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.