Doonan wants truck site in Hays
By RANDY GONZALES
The attorney for a developer who hopes to put a semi dealership in Ellis County met Monday with the Ellis County Commission.
Chris Sook, representing Kenneth Doonan, Wichita, gave a presentation, including a preliminary site plan, to the commissioners in their regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.
"Certainly, my client has every intention of bringing a heavy-duty truck dealership and service facility to this area," Sook said. "The manufacturer who is involved has basically directed that they want to have a service facility on I-70 somewhere between Kansas City and Denver."
The property where the dealership would be located is on the northeast quadrant of Exit 157 on Interstate 70, on 230th Avenue. Doonan already has dealerships in Wichita and Great Bend.
"The goal ultimately on this 22 acres is to have a number of different developments, including a travel center," Sook said. "There are some other possibilities. My client has done some conversations on that directly."
There are some issues with the proposed development, Sook said, including access to water, transmission lines over the property and a gas line on it.
Sook said also needed are road improvements; that's where the county would come in.
In a memo to commissioners, County Administrator Greg Sund said 55th Street, which borders on the north side of the property, has a stretch of 1,350 feet that would be affected. The current chip seal surface would not stand up to the anticipated traffic.
If the project moves along, Sook said he anticipates coming before the commission again to see what assistance might be provided.
Sook added he also needed to have discussions with the city of Hays.
"Frankly, to do a development on the scale of this site plan, we'd probably require some city infrastructure," he said. "At some point along the way, especially with the city's current policy, they're going to require an annexation for that kind of development. At least, that's our assumption."
To get the project moving, working with the county first might be the best option, Sook said. The goal is to have the dealership open for business in the spring. There would be 17 employees.
"We got to get the dealership up running, moving forward," he said. "Frankly, our best opportunity to do that on the timeline we're dealing with may be to work with the county first, address those issues, see what we can get done in terms of road upgrading that has to happen, some other infrastructure taken care of through a benefit district."
Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, said the development would be beneficial.
"We've already done some preliminary cost-benefit analysis," White said. "Every scenario we've run has been a positive impact for the county and city."
In other business:
* Commissioners approved an oil and gas lease to J. Fred Hambright Inc., Wichita, including striking a portion of section 10 on county right of way in Stonewood Estates, North Addition.
* Commissioners were given an update by Sund on the administrative center project at 718 Main. The project will include updating the light fixtures, he said, with the possible cost approximately $100,000. However, the new fixtures would pay for themselves in energy savings in three years or less.
* Commissioners will take under consideration a change in meeting time, to allow the attendance of County Counselor Bill Jeter, who also is the counselor for the Hays USD 489 school board, which also meets Monday evenings. Commissioners are considering moving the meeting time from 6:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. The other option could be to keep the same meeting time, if another attorney was in attendance.
* Commissioners granted a caterer license to Garden Steak Haus and Catering. They operate Rose Garden in the Hadley Center and are expanding to the former Fanchon building, 2350 E. Eighth.
* Commissioners went into executive session for 1.5 hours to discuss possible litigation not involving an elected official, and also to discuss the annual evaluation for Sund. No action was taken.