With the Ellis County Commissioner who opposed it no longer in office, the Blue Sky Acres development is once again on the Ellis County Commission’s meeting agenda.

The long-contested development south of Hays has been up in the air since it failed to win approval of the Ellis County Commission in November 2016 by a vote of 1-1, after which it became the subject of a lawsuit.

Now the owner of the proposed Blue Sky Acres Addition is scheduled to submit a final plat to the Ellis County Commission at its regular meeting Monday evening in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St. 

If the commission approves it, Hays-area developer Mary Alice Unrein can start developing the farm ground into residential lots, according to the agenda item from Curtis Deines, inspection and enforcement superintendent for City of Hays.

Blue Sky Acres was originally shot down when Ellis County Commissioner Marcy McClelland voted against it. McClelland’s term expired in January and she was replaced by Butch Schlyer. Commissioner Dean Haselhorst, who voted for Blue Sky Acres in 2016, is still on the commission. Also new to the commission is Dustin Roths. Roths was appointed to fill the seat of Barb Wasinger, who was elected state representative for the 111th District. She had abstained from voting on Blue Sky Acres in 2016 due to a conflict of interest. 

Unrein is proposing the 20-acre Blue Sky Acres parcel be divided into 2-to 3-acre residential lots. The roads are to remain private and will be constructed and maintained by the developer and adjacent lot owners, according to commission agenda background.

While Blue Sky Acres’ six lots sit outside the city limits, they fall within an inter-jurisdictional 3-mile boundary, so the City of Hays and its planning commission also previously considered and approved the development.

McClelland, when she voted against it, said she was concerned about sufficient water supply and water contamination from an adjacent subdivision fronting U.S. Highway 183.

The adjacent development, the VonFeldt Subdivision, was developed in 1977. It consists of 1-acre lots that each have their own water well and septic systems. During storms, rain water washes across the low-lying subdivision, so that neighboring lots contaminate one another, according to court filings by McClelland and the Ellis County Commission.

Unrein sued McClellan and the Ellis County Commission, but lost the suit in Aug. 2018 when a judge from the 24th Judicial District ruled McClelland was within her legal authority as a commissioner to oppose the development.

In other business scheduled for Monday, County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes will present the county’s proposed departmental budgets for 2020. In a move to trim $2 million from the 2019 budget, the commissioners are asking county departments to reduce their spending 1.5 percent.