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City's future the focus of planning commission

6/4/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The project set to redefine Hays' future development was unveiled Tuesday at the Hays Area Planning Commission's meeting.

Matt Bucchin, senior associate of Kendig Keast Collaborative, presented the scope and timeline of the undertaking. The consultant group will spend a year crafting new subdivision and zoning rules for approval.

The consultant said the process would stir "controversy."

The rewrite is different from the city's 2012 comprehensive plan because it has a direct effect on residents' lives.

The possible sweeping changes might affect zoning districts, land use, lighting and other aspects of the city.

"When you apply it to your livelihood and business, your ability to put up signage, the amount of landscaping and parking spaces that are required for new buildings, that translates to direct feedback with people's pocketbooks. So the conversation changes," Bucchin said.

The group will return to Hays throughout the project to confer with commissioners and solicit public input. The endeavor aims to update the rules set in 1973, fix inconsistencies and close loopholes.

Sessions took place throughout Tuesday at the Hays Welcome Center for community groups to share their opinions. Neighborhood associations, developers, realtors, lenders, local agencies, architects and contractors attended the meetings.

Paul Wildeman, representing Hays Neighbors, said housing is a key issue. He predicted affordable housing would spur economic development.

"If we had smaller lots, more affordable to develop, more affordable housing -- which all ties together -- we would end up selling more homes to the entry-level people that would get more entry-level income type people in town, which would attract more business," Wildeman said.

Kelly Koenke, representing Homes by Cornerstone, said the city's water restrictions have discouraged homebuyers from choosing large corner lots and pursuing expensive landscaping.

The consultants will return July 28.