Regulators seek to halt housing construction over methane concerns

Sunday, November 18, 2007

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Missouri regulators are trying to stop development of a $117 million housing development and golf course because of concerns about underground methane gas.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources was working with The Links at Stone Canyon Inc. on its development at the Woods Chapel Sanitary Landfill in eastern Independence.

The development is being built atop two capped landfills, which required the company to follow strict environmental regulations.

State officials, however, said the company violated those rules by splitting up the property without state approval, selling about 56 acres to Sailor-Woods Development to build homes. The company also built a lake on the site over the objections of regulators who are worried about methane gas under the landfill escaping.

"We have tried diligently to work with this company and provide guidance and instruction on how to develop this site," said department director Doyle Childers in a release. "Unfortunately, The Links at Stone Canyon has chosen to completely disregard the department's guidance. They have forced us to take this drastic step."

An attorney for the developers said they would meet Monday with the department and the Missouri attorney general's office.

"This is a matter of a misunderstanding between MDNR and the developer, and hopefully on Monday, we can get a resolution," said attorney Bill Moore. "In the end, we are looking at a project that is taking a closed-out landfill that has no value to the community and turning that into an asset for the entire community.

"The site is in better condition than it has ever been."

Developers originally planned to build an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman atop one of the capped landfills surrounded by 225 single-family "executive" residences over 365 acres.

The department said a review of underground methane gas, created as the garbage breaks down, showed concentrations "dangerously above prescribed regulatory limits."

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