Mark Taylor
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Johnson County Commissioners voted 4-3 to temporarily suspend enforcement of the county’s ban on yard waste in landfills for Edwardsville and Wyandotte County.
In 2010, the county adopted changes to its Solid Waste Management Code in an effort to promote recycling and extend the life of landfills.
Among those changes was banning yard waste from landfills beginning in 2012.
But commissioners were told Dec. 15 that Deffenbaugh Industries, which operates a landfill in Johnson County, has two existing contracts with Edwardsville and Wyandotte County that require the collection and disposal of yard waste for the next 18 months.
Cindy Kemper, director of the Johnson County Environmental Department, said the glitch was only recently discovered.
“I want to assure all commissioners that had this concern been raised earlier in the process, we would have tackled it as well instead of waiting until the 11th hour,” she said.
Chairman Ed Eilert said he met with representatives of Edwardsville and Wyandotte county the previous day to discuss the issue.
He said the general consensus was to suspend enforcement for the duration of the two contracts.
“It simply boils down to the probability of being able to interfere with existing legitimate contracts and what that may or may not lead to,” Eilert said.
Commissioner Jason Osterhaus said he didn’t believe it was fair for Johnson County to accept yard waste from Wyandotte County, but not from its own citizens.
“We have to go back and explain to our residents, ‘We’re going to hold you, citizens, to this code, but in the meantime Deffenbaugh for the next 18 months will be accepting yard waste into the landfill from Edwardsville and Kansas City Kansas.”
Commissioner Calvin Hayden argued that putting restrictions on Deffenbaugh was “injecting government into a private entity.”
“At the end of the day, Deffenbaugh has to make money and they have to stay competitive,” he said. “I think we need to let the market dictate what’s going on and spend all this time and energy that we have been investing in into (revising the code)  into educating our citizens how to recycle and get our recycling rates where they should be. We’ve done a miserable job of that.
“I don’t think we need the trash cops here. We should encourage people to recycle. Everybody knows its a worthy cause, the thing we should be doing.”
Commissioners Osterhaus, Jim Allen and Michael Ashcraft voted against the measure.