Plans to expand Valley Oaks Steak Company’s cattle feedlot near Powell Gardens rejected

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri commission has rejected a proposal to greatly expand Valley Oaks Steak Company, a cattle feedlot near the 970-acre Powell Gardens.

Powell Gardens chief executive Tabitha Schmidt said she’s “utterly elated” that the Missouri Clean Water Commission decided Monday to reverse earlier state approval of Valley Oaks Steak Company’s expansion plan.

The cattle feedlot near Lone Jack, which is about 25 miles east of Kansas City, wanted to grow from fewer than 999 head of cattle to as many as 6,999 head. It envisioned what it pledged would be among the most environmentally friendly cattle operations in the nation.

But Powell Gardens and other opponents said the expansion would threaten water quality, drive down home values and put the botanical center at risk of disease-spreading pests.

After learning of the company’s plans in February, more than 1,000 people wrote letters of concern to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources during a public comment period. The department nonetheless approved a permit in June.

An appeal of that decision led to a state administrative review panel in late October temporarily halting the company’s plans pending a final ruling by the Clean Water Commission.

The commission’s ruling may not be the end of the fight, however. Powell Gardens attorney Aimee Davenport said Valley Oaks could pursue appellate court options. The company already has another permit application in the works, filed earlier this month.

A Valley Oaks representative on Monday said the company would not be issuing immediate comment on the commission’s ruling.

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