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City comp plan OK'd





Hays city commissioners, giving kudos to steering committee members and participating residents, approved the city's comprehensive plan Thursday night, bringing to a close a two-year process.

Several steering committee members were onhand to hear City Manager Toby Dougherty give an overview of the plan contracted for $123,000 by RDG Planning & Design, Omaha, Neb.

The plan, required by state statute, is a concept that will provide the basis for planning and zoning decisions as the city moves forward, Dougherty said.

"As we grow, as we redevelop, there are going to be applications to zone and rezone, and the land use map provides a guideline for those decisions," he said. "The comprehensive plan is a guideline for orderly development."

A total of 38 public meetings have taken place throughout the plan development process, including open houses, stakeholder group meetings and workshops. In addition, Web-based survey input was solicited from residents.

Critical to the future use of the plan, Dougherty said is for city leaders to "seize the opportunities as they come along." However, most of the opportunities outlined in the plan will be developer-driven.

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV, a steering committee member himself, thanked other committee members and residents who participated in the process, and reiterated members of the private sector will be the facilitators of future development both on the Vine Street corridor and downtown areas. The projects would not be funded by general taxpayers, he said.

"It's key to the future of our city that we change certain things so that we continue to grow," he said. "Our growth and our future and our progress hinges on these changes, because if we leave things as they are, particularly on Vine Street and downtown, the city will not grow as much."

In other business, commissioners:

* Approved 3-0 a job bounty from Energy Pioneer Solutions for creation of 12 full-time positions, with pay rates ranging from $10 to $26 per hour. The cost to the city will be $15,500, paid during a five-year period after audited payrolls prove the company has met its contractual obligation.

* Unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the sale and discharge of fireworks July 2 to 4, with commission final determination to be made during their final May meeting.

* Voted 3-0 to accept the city of Hays 2011 audit presented by Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball.

* Heard a presentation by Public Works Director I.D. Creech on a recently completed Hays Regional Airport study.

* Commissioner Barbara Wasinger and Mayor Troy Hickman were absent.