Several curbside recycling companies continued to operate in Lawrence on Wednesday despite a sudden decision by the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center to stop accepting many materials following a dispute with City Hall.
Bo Killough, owner of the recycling center, followed through on promises made after Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission meeting that he would stop accepting most household recycling items.
Six curbside recycling companies used the 12th and Haskell center as their drop-off point for recycling, but several providers Wednesday said they were adjusting to the change.
“I probably will drive about twice as many miles as I normally do, but we’re working hard to make it work,” said Jeff Joseph, owner of Jeff’s Curbside Recycling.
Killough gave the recycling companies little notice that he was going to close the household portion of his business. Killough made the announcement about 11 p.m. Tuesday after city commissioners directed staff members to formulate a future enforcement action against the company.
The business had drawn concerns from several neighbors about large numbers of junk cars and other recycled material that are being stored outside. Neighbors also expressed concerns about noise and large amounts of industrial activity related to crushing cars and loading recycled materials for shipping.
City commissioners on Tuesday did not force Killough to close the recycling operations. Killough instead made the decision after hearing commissioners criticize how the business was being operated. Killough did keep open the part of the business that buys scrap metal.
An employee at the center said Killough plans to keep the household portion of the business closed.
The decision left some curbside recycling companies miffed.
“It is going to be real inconvenient for us,” said Chris Scafe, owner of Sunflower Curbside Recycling, who was selling some materials at a recycling center in Topeka on Wednesday. “But we’re going to make it work. I feel like Bo is kind of playing a game here.
“I’m not going to deal with him anymore. It probably is best that he get out of the business.”
The long-term future of the business wasn’t entirely clear after Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioners largely sided with neighbors who showed videos and pictures of intensive operations that occur just across the street from their homes.
The recycling center is located on property that is zoned for residential use. Killough and his attorney have argued that the business has certain rights to exist under a grandfather provision in the city’s zoning code. Neighbors have disagreed with that assertion, and city staff members have struggled with how to interpret the code.
A new option for curbside recycling companies may come online by late January. Kevin Weldon with Tonganoxie-based Honey Creek Disposal said he hopes to have his company’s recycling processing center open by the end of next month. The company is remodeling the former Lacy Steel building on the Leavenworth-Douglas County line along Kansas Highway 32.
Honey Creek, which is a regular customer of Killough’s, will use the new facility to service its curbside operations in Eudora and De Soto. Weldon said the facility also will be open to other curbside recycling companies, but it will not be open to the general public.
Killough’s operations were open to the general public, and unlike the Walmart recycling center, patrons did not have to sort the recycling. The 12th and Haskell center also took some items that Walmart did not.
“The unfortunate thing is I’m concerned more people are going to start dumping items in the trash,” Joseph said.