Neighbors gather petition signatures to prevent wooded area from being a dumping ground

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A group of neighbors is gathering more than 3,000 petition signatures to prevent a wooded area from being turned into a dumping ground.

The site is along Blue Ridge Boulevard, where people who live nearby say the woods should be preserved.

The city council recently rezoned the forested land for industrial use so the owner could cut down the trees and dump construction debris on the site.

Monday morning, members of the “Save the Woods” group gathered petition signatures at the Independence DMV office and called for a public vote on the zoning change. The group claims it needs about 600 more signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Opponents of the landfill also have formed a conservation group to buy the 44-acre site and turn it into a nature preserve.

“Those woods have been hunted and hiked for generations in there,” said Susan Huntoon, a petition organizer. “Nobody knew they were privately owned. There’s nothing that says no trespassing. There’s no fences, there’s nothing to give you any idea that they don’t belong to the people already.”

The city council voted 6 to 1 in favor of the rezoning about a month ago, and the mayor said the site already is a place where people dump trash by the roadside.

A city spokesman says Independence is monitoring the petition process.

Neighbors are convinced preserving the land as forest will improve property values in the area. Others say they are not opposed as long as the landfill is limited to excavation and demolition debris.


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