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The Kenig Konnection

February 2016 - Part II

Hello again! I know you just heard from me between 24-48 hours ago, but I couldn't pack in all the information I wanted to get out into one newsletter, so here's Part II. Part I focused on our expansion of the SEED program to target startups, an initiative that I worked hard to develop and pass, as well as the saga surrounding the Vantage Apartments issue, which was voted down last month.

We've been working on many other issues as well, which I wanted to make you aware of, from relief for residents from train horns to working with Deffenbaugh to resolve the odor issues from the landfill.

I'll be traveling out to Washington, D.C. next month for the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference, and we'll be meeting with our congressional representatives during our visits to Capitol Hill. I worked in an official capacity as a staffer for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and worked on Rep. Kevin Yoder's campaign, so it will be nice to reconnect while advocating on behalf of our community.

Lastly, congratulations to Sergeant Steve McCorkill, who just retired from the Shawnee Police Department after more than 20 of service. Sgt. McCorkill was the main trainer for the Citizens Police Academy, an excellent, immersive 10-week program I completed and graduated from this past year (sidenote - I'll discuss the program in greater detail later this year and would be happy to provide a recommendation and reference for any Ward 4 resident who wants to apply). Sgt. McCorkill also led the formation of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) in the State of Kansas - an initiative to respond early to individuals with mental illness and substance abuse issues and get them the help they need while providing officers with specialized training on how to approach these individuals and respond to calls.

Sgt. McCorkill is a citizen leader in our community and I was honored to attend his retirement reception last week at the Police Department. Happy retirement, Sgt. McCorkill!

Landfill Odor Issues

Working with Deffenbaugh on Resolution

Many residents throughout our city have noticed the substantial increase in odors from the Deffenbaught landfill. Residents near the landfill have suffered through the odors, but even residents out east have noticed the odor on some days, as it has been experienced in my neighborhood in Seven Hills Farms at 71st and Pflumm and as far as east as City Hall on Johnson Drive.

Deffenbaugh Industries was acquired by Waste Management, a large, national trash conglomerate. As a private entity, we do not have any statutory authority over Waste Management, although their special use permit for operating the landfill is up for renewal this year, and we want to ensure all of our concerns are addressed before that permit is renewed.

Fellow Ward IV Councilmember Mickey Sandifer and I met with Lisa Disbrow, Area Senior Manager for Waste Management, earlier this month at Deffenbaugh headquarters to discuss concerns from residents over the odors, and she introduced us to Kent Harrell, the Director of Operations for the landfill.

We've been assured that Waste Management is taking the following, immediate steps to reduce and hopefully eliminate the odors:

  • Increase the use of deodorizing agents at the facility. 
  • Installation of a passive landfill gas flare system at the disposal area to capture landfill gas.

On January 12th, Waste Management, began expanding the existing landfill gas collection system adding an additional 32 gas extraction wells and associated piping for the capture of landfill gas. This construction is expected to take four to six weeks to complete.

Latest update: as of this week, 22 of 32 gas extraction wells have been installed with 900 feet of 24” header piping. The new flare has been installed and is operational, with vacuum being applied to the 4,100 feet of perforated horizontal gas collection piping previously installed within the active disposal area.  Gas extraction well installation will continue, along with the installation of additional piping to tie these wells to the flare.  

I will keep you posted as this develops, but residents should start to notice an immediate reduction in landfill odors.

Waste Management is also updating their garbage trucks and equipping their drivers with state-of-the-art GPS technology, so if you live on a street that has been missed by Deffenbaugh crews in the past or you have experienced unreliable service, you should start to notice improvements and a consistent level of service, now that drivers will no longer be utilizing paper maps and manually attempting to find homes on side streets.

Also, Waste Management informed us of a major investment in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, which are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Waste Management will have 77 CNG vehicles in their fleet by the end of this quarter, accounting for nearly 1/3 of their total fleet.

I'm pleased and encouraged that Waste Management is finally responding and taking active steps to resolve this situation, and their area manager, Lisa Disbrow, is now updating me weekly on the installation of the gas wells and flare.

If you you continue to notice odor concerns, please report those to the city using the Citizen Service Request form on the city's website (also found in this newsletter on the right sidebar) or by downloading the Shawnee Connect app on your mobile device.

If you have trash service issues with Deffenbaugh, call their customer service line directly at 800-631-3301 or email them at

If you have a serious service issue with Deffenbaugh and cannot seem to get the customer service you need to have it resolved, please reach out to me directly (my email is the sidebar to the right, near the top of this newsletter). I will call and email my contact there, the area site manager, and ensure you receive a prompt response.

City Purchases Land

City buys land to close rail crossings

Photo courtesy of Nico Roesler, The Shawnee Dispatch

We have heard from many residents about the increased in train horns throughout the city. Train horn frequency increased at one crossing due to that crossing being incorrectly classified as a private crossing for many years when it was actually a public crossing - leading to increased train traffic last year after the mistake was recognized.

The city purchased three parcels of land and worked with BNSF Railroad to begin the process of shutting down the railroad crossing at 59th Street near Woodland Road. We continue to look at ways to alleviate train horn noise at the other crossings as well, but this was the most cost-effective solution for the city an most likely to result in immediate relief, as quiet zones are very expensive to implement and do not completely eliminate train horns - they only reduce the frequency.

Click here for more detail from a recent article in The Shawnee Dispatch which summarizes the action taken.

Photo courtesy of The Shawnee Dispatch

Nieman Road Corridor

Public forum to garner resident feedback

In many ways, just as Shawnee Mission Parkway is the primary artery for our entire city, Nieman Road is the gateway to Downtown Shawnee. Last year, the city enlisted an engineering firm to devise design scenarios for Nieman Road that would make it more pedestrian-friendly and conducive to a neighborhood feel if the area around Downtown were to be developed with new shops, restaurants, and destinations. Those discussions are continuing now with infrastructure improvements to Nieman Road slated for this year. 

Current projects include a trail connection (bike & pedestrian path) linking Nieman Road to Turkey Creek Trail in Merriam and changes to the right-of-way for the road (from SM Parkway north to 55th Street) that will include improvements to utilities, landscaping, and neighborhood connections. Stormwater improvements will also commence near the creek, east of Nieman Road up to Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Attend the public forum next week to provide your input on the project to connect Nieman Road to the Turkey Creek Trail:

             February 16
             6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
             Shawnee United Methodist Church 
             (10700 Johnson Drive)

Pool Cover Regulations

Resolving conflicts in code and zoning regs

This month, the Governing Body was alerted by staff to a conflict between our zoning regulations and the International Building Code. Our city's zoning regulations require a residential swimming pools to be encircled by a fence at least 6 feet tall, while the International Building Code permits an exemption from the fencing requirement if the homeowner has a power-operated pool cover. These pool covers are durable and cost upwards of $10,000 and can hold thousands of pounds of weight. Most of these covers also include electric pumps that operate like a robotic vacuum, sucking up standing water from storms. The pool cover would need to conform to specific standards of durability and quality to qualify. One resident in our city purchased one of these pool covers and received approval by city staff before the contradiction between regulations was identified in our code. I visited his property to see first-hand how his pool cover worked and successfully provide cover and protection.

A majority of council members preferred amending both regulations: amending the building code to remove the exception for constructing a fence if a qualified pool cover is in place and amending zoning regulations to require a 6 ft fence instead of a 4 ft fence. Many councilmembers made arguments in favor of safety, particularly for young neighborhood children who may wander over to a pool and tragically drown. There is no question that safety measures need to be in place, but I thought this measure was a little too restrictive, and I preferred to have a qualifying exception in place for those who chose to invest and install in expensive, heavy-duty pool covers that not only keep debris out but protect individuals who might walk over the pool as well. I believed the fencing requirement would need to remain for all other instances, although Councilmember Vaught did question the practicality of a 6 ft requirement when many HOAs only mandate 4 ft fences. Staff did assure us the regulatory change wouldn't be retroactive - homeowners with 4 ft fences would be grandfathered in - but I was still concerned that we were not providing an exception for homeowners who had already invested in expensive pool cover equipment, or at least allowing them the option of a 4 ft fence vs. a 6 foot fence for homeowners who had not made that expensive and initial investment. For this reason, I voted against the requirement to reconcile the conflict between existing regulations to require a 6 ft fence around pools due to the lack of an exception or just slight modification to the fence height for existing pool cover owners. The motion passed 5-2 (I voted NO along with Councilmember Vaught). Councilmember Meyer was absent during our meeting, but opposed the change as well in our prior consideration of the issue.

Bicycle Friendly Community

Shawnee only JoCo City to be recognized

Our city has been designated a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists. We are the only city in on the Kansas side of the metro area to earn this distinction.

Congratulations to Parks & Recreation Director Neil Holman and his staff for all their work in adding biking trails throughout the city for residents. Shawnee has 18 miles of on-street bike lanes, 40 miles of shared roads (bikers share the roads with automotive traffic), and 27 miles of off-street recreational trails.

Mayor Michelle Distler holds office hours at the Shawnee Civic Center on the third Thursday of every month, where she provides a city update and takes your questions. The City Manager and city staff are present to assist with any resident issues. Take advantage of this opportunity over coffee to connect with the Mayor on the issues that matter most to you. We have a great mayor who truly values government transparency and accessibility to citizens, and this is just one example of how our city demonstrates that commitment to the public.  

When:   Thursday, February 18th
Where:  Shawnee Civic Center
             13817 Johnson Drive
Time:     9:00 am

Resident Spotlight

Derek & Melanie Kreifels, new to Ward 4

Derek and Melanie Kreifels recently moved Ward IV from Roeland Park, relocating to Madison Ranch, subdivision on 75th Street just west of Quivira. Derek previously worked for Ron Estes, the state Treasurer for Kansas, in Topeka as Assistant State Treasurer and Chief of Staff. Just recently, Derek was chosen to lead the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), a non-partisan and non-profit organization that represents state treasurers from states across the country. In his capacity as President of the organization, Derek travels the country, raises funds for the organization's outreach, and implements education and training for state treasurers. Derek had the opportunity to meet several of the presidential candidates running for office and attended some of the nationally-televised debates last year and this year.

I've known Derek for years and now I'm happy to have him as a constituent.

Welcome to Ward 4, Derek and Melanie! And congrats on the new job Derek!

*If you know of someone new to Ward 4, send me their names, a photo, and some biographical info and I'd be happy to profile them in my newsletter and welcome them to the community.

New BBQ in Shawnee 

Is Shawnee becoming a BBQ hot spot?

Mad Man's BBQ will open next Tuesday in downtown Shawnee. Last year, Blind Box BBQ opened on SM Parkway near Pflumm, providing upscale, gourmet BBQ in the city. And we have Bates City BBQ - a longtime fixture - at 6435 Quivira. If you're a BBQ fan like me, I'm sure you welcome this trend. Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the U.S. - could Shawnee become a BBQ mecca within metro KC?

Shawnee Chamber Dinner 

My date, Kristen, and I had a blast at the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner last weekend. 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the Chamber's presence in Shawnee, and decades of business growth and success in our community. The Chamber provides many tools to help businesses get established in our community and provides a voice for business owners on the local level when we consider council legislation that may impact business owners. I want businesses to not only succeed but thrive in Shawnee and I salute the Shawnee Chamber for all the work they do for businesses in our city.


  About Brandon

Ward 4 Map

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Upcoming Events

City Council Meeting - City Hall, 7:30 pm
State of the City Address by Mayor Distler
Third Thursdays with the Mayor
- Shawnee Civic Center
City Council Meeting - City Hall, 7:30 pm
New Businesses
Congratulations to the following businesses that have have recently opened in Shawnee. Welcome!

Brandon Kenig
Councilmember - Ward IV
City of Shawnee

Copyright © 2016 Brandon Kenig for Shawnee City Council, All rights reserved.

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