A reorganized Hays City Commission unanimously approved a request to rezone property at 22nd and Wheatland for commercial use at its regular meeting Thursday night, but the proposal garnered discussion about usage for that zoning category and who should be notified of such requests.
The property, at the southeast corner of the intersection, has been zoned for residential use for 25 years, but has never been developed, Jesse Rohr, director of public works, said.
Property owner Darrell Dreher made the request, which was heard at a Dec. 17 public hearing of the Hays Planning Commission. That panel recommended approving the request, which would change the corner lot and part of the lot of to the south as C-2, commercial general district.
Real estate agent Adam Pray of Platinum Group declined after the meeting to say what business is interested in the location, citing client confidentiality.
Commissioners indicated they were aware of what the intended use of the property is and believed it was appropriate to the location, but said that should not affect their decision.
“The use that’s being requested I think is pretty complementary to that area, given that North Central Kansas Tech is across the street, the hospital is across the street,” Sandy Jacobs said, also noting property immediately to the west and farther east on 22nd is zoned commercial. “It feels right to me for that whole thing.”
“We all kind of have an idea of what’s going to go in there, but generally when this happens, we don’t know,” Commissioner Shaun Musil said.
“It shouldn’t matter. We need to approve it or deny it based on any of these uses,” Commissioner James Meier said, referring to the list of allowed uses for C-2 zoning.
One area resident, Luke Oborny, who lives in the 1700 block of Wheatland, spoke against the proposal based on those potential uses. Oborny also is a member of the Hays USD 489 school board.
C-2 zoning lists 22 possible commercial uses. Some are specific, such as animal grooming facilities, assisted living, grocery store, medical office or clinic, drinking establishment and vehicle gas and fuel stations. Others are not so specific, such as heavy retail, mixed use and place of assembly.
“There are so many things it could be in the future, and that kind of concerns me,” Oborny said.
“There’s a lot of things on there that would probably even complement a residential zone. Some of those things you may not want so close to a residential area,” he said.
Henry Schwaller, who was voted mayor at the beginning of the meeting, agreed some of the allowed uses might not be appropriate for the area.
“This lot would not be appropriate for some of these uses. Some of them yes. So can we change the zoning groups? That’s probably a question for a future discussion,” he said.
Commissioner Ron Mellick said the lot size in this case would eliminate many of the of possible uses.
Oborny also raised concern about the notification process for the planning commission’s public hearing. He said he his wife, Kristy, did not receive notification about the hearing. He also said he only saw public notice of the hearing in the media at noon the day of the hearing.
“At some level the process just feels wrong,” Oborny said. “It doesn’t feel transparent.”
All property owners within 200 feet of the lots were notified, as state statute requires, according the city documents, but commissioners agreed with Oborny that could be changed.
“I started thinking about 200 feet. That’s not a lot. I probably parked further away,” from City Hall, Oborny said.
“I realize the planning commission is a legally separate entity from us,” Schwaller said. “We can’t tell them what to do, but they could consider a bigger area.”
As for the public notice of the meetings, City Manager Toby Dougherty said including the notice for the Hays Planning Commission, this zoning change had been a three-month process.
Still, commissioners agreed the process might need some improvement.
“I understand your feelings,” Meier said to Oborny. “I know everything was done legally correct, but I think we can do a better job.”
He suggested such notifications could go out on Nixle, an online and telecommunications system used by the City of Hays.