Purchase photos

Commission proposes irrigation changes

1/21/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The Hays Area Planning Commission met Monday to review changes in proposed landscaping and irrigation regulations for future projects.

"The crux of this was when we made it clear that the necessity to file a landscape plan will still only apply to commercial areas, not residential areas," said John T. Bird, Hays city attorney. "The irrigation plans will need to be filed no matter what zone they are putting in an irrigation system, and they'll have to comply with our regulations."

There will be public hearing Feb. 17 for community feedback on the potential changes. The proposal then will be brought before the Hays City Commission for final action.

The rules apply to permanent irrigation systems, according to the agenda.

Other edits included defining cool season and warm season grasses and xeriscaping, which is a method of landscaping requiring little to no supplemental irrigation using plants adapted to drought conditions or gravel.

Two copies of a landscape and irrigation plan must be submitted. The plans for water use must include the location of permanent irrigation systems, its scope, the dimensions of any existing or proposed system and the contact information for the system's designer and installer. The type of materials used in the permanent systems must be disclosed.

For residential properties of four units or fewer, the maximum area served by an irrigation system cannot exceed 10,000 square feet. Within that area, no more than 5,000 square feet can be turf. No more than 2,000 square feet of the 5,000 square feet can be cool season turf, unless the area is not permanently irrigated.

For all other properties, the maximum area served by the irrigation system cannot be more than 10,000 square feet. No more than 5,000 square feet of the area can be turf. No more than 30 percent of the property, less impervious surface area, or 2,000 square feet per zoning lot, can be cool turf, whichever is less. At least 30 percent of the landscaped area must be xeriscaped.

In regards to proposed irrigation regulations, the agenda stated, "Enforcement in the 3 mile zone is limited to properties that will be part of new or existing development to the extent these regulations are incorporated into the platting process."

Shelterbelts that do not require frequent irrigation will be allowed when necessary to protect property. A list of acceptable trees will be available.

Low-levels of water in local wells affirm the need for water sustainability, said Nicholas Willis, stormwater/water conservation superintendent. Measurements taken in January at two sites are the lowest on record prior to this drought since 1985 and 1991.

In other business:

* A public hearing to discuss a rezoning and a preliminary plat plan also will be at the February meeting. The commission is considering annexing land south of 22nd from Canterbury to Wheatland, and rezoning it from an agricultural zone to an office and institution district. Alfred Geist, Hays, has submitted the proposed change. The area includes four lots and a drainage/utility easement area.