RIVERTON, Kan. — Opponents of a landfill that had been proposed near Riverton are gathering signatures for a second time, calling for a grand jury to investigate actions taken by the Galena City Council in connection with the project.
An earlier petition circulated by the group, which was sent to the Cherokee County District Court this summer, had 365 signatures — exceeding the requirement of 225 — but was denied Aug. 20 by Judge Oliver K. Lynch, according to court documents. Lynch said the petition did not have the name, address and phone number of the person filing the document. He also said the petition gave no indication that any authorized official placed the verifying signatures under oath.
Jason Bolt, spokesman for the non-profit organization opposing the landfill — the Cherokee County Community Action Group — said they later received legal counsel to correct the petition, and they have gathered more than 130 signatures so far. He said an exact date for when the new petition will be submitted has not been set, but he expects it to happen toward the middle of the month.
Some of the residents opposing the landfill say they are concerned about a number of health and safety issues, as well as the impact it would have on economic growth, property values and more.
The opposition Group formed soon after July 7, when Galena City Council members approved the acquisition of a 160-acre tract and related ordinances to begin taking steps for turning 40 of those acres into a landfill.
The land, located at the northeast corner of the U.S. Highway 69 Alternate intersection with Lostine Road, near Riverton, was given to the city of Galena by Brian Jordan, of Jordan Disposal Service, with a proviso that he would have a perpetual contract for operation of the planned landfill.
But during a special meeting July 23, and after opposition had formed, the Galena council voted to rescind the contract and ordinances regarding annexation of the land. On July 30, council members voted to postpone discussion of a landfill until January.
Bolt said the content of the second petition is the same as the first and calls for a grand jury to look into how the land was acquired as well as how the contract for the proposed landfill was formed.
“There were some things that were probably done to make this happen that were at best unethical and at worst illegal,” Bolt alleged. “We would like there to be a fair opportunity for a jury of our peers to investigate.”
Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said the group’s petition is “an obvious fishing expedition.”
Cherokee County Attorney Nathan Coleman said his investigation did not uncover any violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act by the City Council.
“Nothing illegal, nothing improper happened,” Oglesby said. “They’re trying to create something that doesn’t exist.”
The Cherokee County Community Action Group, which opposes a proposed landfill near Riverton, Kansas, will meet at 4 p.m. October 26 at the Riverton High School gym to update residents on the group’s efforts.