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City adopts stricter water conservation measures

3/28/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Hays residents will face stricter water conservation measures after Thursday night's Hays City Commission meeting.

Commissioners unanimously approved resolutions to make plumbing more efficient in future construction and remodels, update the municipal water conservation plan/drought response plan and revise irrigation regulations. An ordinance was passed allowing city staff to ask the state for permission to apply water use rules to private wells during the water warning and water emergency stages.

Banning permits for newly seeded/sodded lawns during the water warning and giving the commission power to enact new water rates during the emergency stage were among the changes. No property can install a new irrigation system to water more than 2,000 square feet of cool season grass or reach more than 10,000 square feet of vegetation.

Commercial properties building a new irrigation system must have 30 percent of their land xeriscaped. All properties will be required to have a 5-foot buffer away from impervious surfaces for spray irrigation.

New business customers using permanent irrigation systems will need to install irrigation meters. Using potable water to irrigate will trigger a new commercial water rate unless sites use a dedicated meter.

In other business:

* Commissioners voted 3-1 to approve a new broker and risk management services contract with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. The Kansas City company was chosen over the incumbent provider, Hays-based Insurance Planning Inc. Gallagher's bid was $3,500 cheaper annually through five years than IPI.

Commissioner Shaun Musil said he cast the dissenting vote because he believed the local company should be used.

"The citizens put us in charge to get the best deal for the citizens, but like they (IPI) were saying, I think they live in the city, they'll spend money, pay taxes, and their employees will, and I just think it's best to stay local."

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said he did not choose a side because he was absent from last week's work session, and he had conflicting opinions.

"I'm torn," Schwaller said. "I like to support local providers, particularly local providers of services. We'd had a good run with Insurance Planning. But then again, my obligation is to the tax payers."

* Overland Property Group LLC secured commissioners' unanimous resolution of support for the company to pursue state tax credits to build affordable rental housing on East 22nd. The land was rezoned for development March 14.

Schwaller said it was suggested the property was intended for office use during the rezoning process and building apartments instead was a "bait and switch." He said he does not want to give the company economic development incentives to build on the land, and he said it often uses contractors from Missouri.

* Commissioners approved a request from Nex-Tech to have The News Publishing Co., dba The Hays Daily News, manage Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex's website.

* A measure to clarify what defines a business user for sewer service was passed.