BY KAREN LA PIERRE

klapierre@dailynews.net

The Hays City Commission approved an inter-local cooperation agreement between Hays and Russell for R9 Ranch at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The ranch was purchased in 1995 as a potential future water source for both cities and the region.

Russell purchased 18 percent of the ranch and water rights. Hays owns 82 percent.

Russell agreed to cooperate on applications, documents and to continue to support the project.

"We are ensuring ourselves that we have a united front," said Hays City Attorney John Bird. "It is probably, legally, one of the most important steps you are going to take in this process."

The project will be governed by Kansas water laws. Russell already has approved the measure.

"This is a very historical vote and a very historical document," said Eber Phelps, vice mayor.

The city also approved the annexation and rezoning of land in north Hays. The property is next to General Hays Road and 48th Street. The owners plan to develop the property for commercial use.

ID Creech, director of public works, said staff recommended the area be annexed.

It will be rezoned from agricultural to commercial.

"If you do look at this with the comprehensive plan you'll see that it does fit nicely with the area," Creech said.

In other business, the commission approved the appointment of Linda Stahlman to the Hays Beautification Committee; Stacey Smith, Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Committee;   and Greg Sund, Sister Cities Advisory Board.