City of Ellis Mayor Dave McDaniel wants Ellis residents to have a say in updating the plan for Ellis County’s growth and development. So he asked for a Town Hall meeting for the city’s residents at 8 a.m. Thursday at Ellis City Hall.

“I requested to have one in Ellis because not a lot of people will want to drive over to Hays,” said McDaniel, speaking from his Trio Home Center business in Ellis on Friday.

Town hall meetings in Hays on the 2019 Comprehensive Plan Update are set for 7 p.m. Tuesday and 7 p.m. Wednesday in the County Commission meeting room in the basement of the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main.

The hired consultants pulling together the plan are Marvin Planning Consultants Inc., David City, Neb., and MSA Professional Services of Ankeny, Iowa. Starting in December, residents of Ellis County have been asked to fill out either an online survey or paper survey asking for feedback on everything from housing costs and quality of education to priorities and concerns about water quality, taxes, entertainment and rural development.

As of a few weeks ago, said environmental sanitarian Karen Purvis in the Ellis County Environmental Office, about 200 people had filled out surveys.

“I have been surprised with the number of surveys taken,” Purvis said. “I didn’t think it would be that many. Even our consultant was surprised.”

The Ellis County Commission will give the consultants its input on what it would like to see in the plan at 4 p.m. Monday. That meeting in the County Commission meeting room in the basement of the Ellis County Administrative Center also is  open to the public.

McDaniel said one purpose of a comprehensive plan is to give a statistical picture of the county’s residents, such as age, gender, education and income, as well as of the county, including population, economy, resources, transportation, land use, utilities and communications, housing, parks and recreation, educational and job opportunities and more. 

From there, an updated plan provides a blueprint for how residents want the county to grow and develop, and areas of concern and importance.

“It gives an outline on what is coming in Ellis County, the economic growth, the employment opportunities, land use,” McDaniel said.

As chairman of the Joint Planning Commission, McDaniel said a finished plan will guide planning and zoning decisions. It can also guide the County Commission and the elected officials of the county and cities.

“If people say they are visiting museums, then do we spend money on keeping them going?” he said. “They are just trying to get ideas for what people are concerned about.”