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Glimpse shows possible final draft of comprehensive plan





Attendance was slim at Monday's public hearing for the city of Hays comprehensive plan as RDG Planning & Design consultants revealed the plan's nearly final draft.

Project manager Amy Haase gave a summary of the comprehensive plan to members of the Hays Area Planning Commission, several city staff members and an audience of two residents.

The city commission in February 2011 hired RDG, which also was contracted to develop a plan for Ellis County, for a contract amount of $123,000. A 12-member steering committee kicked off the plan's development process in April 2011.

Larry Gould, Hays Area Planning Commission member, pointed out residents of all ages had provided input throughout the yearlong process.

Gould said the planning commission guided the development process of the last plan, which was developed in 1994.

"It was a little easier for the planning commission members to understand the plan because they were involved in it all the way," he said.

Gould commended RDG staff on the plan draft, a mix of elements driven by Hays residents and consultants.

"I think it's important we use this time as a critical analysis and answer questions for the public at large -- even though the large public is not quite here," he said.

Haase highlighted future land use concepts to planning commission members, pointing out they, as a governing body, consider incremental decisions regarding the city's growth on a month-to-month basis.

One land use category that differs from the city's previous plan, she said, is a mixed-use district that incorporates residential, commercial and office space.

"We want to make sure the development really emphasizes the relationship between those pieces," Haase said. "That they are pedestrian-friendly, so you could live in a part and actually walk to other businesses in the development.

"The projects should also incorporate good signage and really be welcoming and have a good neighborhood feeling to them."

The 27th and Hall area, she said, already demonstrates a mixed-use district, with a grocery store, multi-family housing and offices.

Public input into the plan's development continues to be encouraged, Gould said. The plan, still in draft form, is available at planhays.com.

The comprehensive plan will be reviewed again by the planning commission in July. It then will be considered by Hays city commissioners at the Aug. 2 work session and brought to a final vote at the city commission's Aug. 23 regular meeting.