Purchase photos

City debates shipping storage unit rules





Several Hays business owners advocated for relaxing rules on shipping storage containers during the Hays City Commission's work session Thursday.

The current city ordinance states containers must be temporary for up to 120 days. The rule, which was enacted in 2008, was a response to concerns regarding the aesthetics of containers.

City staff presented commissioners with their research on the issue. Setting containers 35 feet away from property lines, except in the front, and painting them to match surrounding buildings or earth tones were ideas suggested ideas to the commission. Staff picked 1 acre as the minimum size of lots eligible for containers, but the number was arbitrary for the purpose of discussion.

Scott Simpson, owner of Best Radiator, said the setback rule should be rewritten to allow placing containers in less visible places on properties.

"I have mine right along the back fence," Simpson said. "If I pull them out 35 feet, 35 feet they're in the middle of the parking lot. They're going to look horrible."

Marty Patterson, president of Rome Corp. and Western Well service, said he has one container grandfathered in with the ordinance and wishes to add two more. Adding more storage would help because his building cannot be expanded, he said.

Chris Miller, owner of Auto Tech, said he is not invested in the current debate, but it could affect him later.

"Like every business owner in town, I want my business to grow," Miller said. "Being told that if I need to come up with some extra outside storage -- it's economical -- I can't do it. That's a hindrance to me in the future."

Commissioners asked staff to draft a proposed ordinance detailing the setback rules, number of containers, lot sizes and other aspects. The issue will be revisited at the next work session.

Other business on the agenda:

* I.D. Creech shared proposed updates to Hays Regional Airport. The city would pay $399,412 for the cost of construction to repair the terminal and prepare it for the 50-passenger jet service set to begin in August.

* More funding for the airport was also discussed. Increasing lease costs, applying a commercial passenger fee and raising the fuel surcharge were among the ideas.

* Mike Woofter, representing NWK Investments LLC, addressed the city commission about his company's plan to develop land on 55th and 230th avenue for a hotel and travel/convenience center. The group has offered to pay the estimated $2 million for the city to hook up water and sewer services to the site, but it does not want to be annexed into the city for 10 years or for the length of a loan it hopes to secure. The group wants to remain in Ellis County to set up several improvement districts to fund its infrastructure.

Woofter could not provide definite sales projections for the project at the meeting. City staff will work with him and bring the commission a more detailed plan.

* Next week, commissioners will debate banning the sale and use of fireworks this year due to dry conditions and an ongoing water warning.