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City, businesses discuss portable shipping containers





The Hays City Commission collaborated with members of the Hays business community Thursday during a work session to outline a potential ordinance allowing permanent use of portable shipping containers.

The two groups scrutinized proposed rules created by city staff. Allowing electricity to serve the containers, modifying them to include doors, ensuring they are not between the business and the street and setting them back from public view and other properties were the key ideas discussed. Other rules included giving owners 60 days to paint the units and prohibiting their use in residential areas.

The rules will be presented to the Hays Area Planning Commission for review.

Chris Miller, owner of Auto Tech, thanked the commissioners for working with the business community to resolve the issue.

Scott Simpson, owner of Best Radiator, addressed Mayor Henry Schwaller IV and said, "When you took the gavel, you said you were going to bring in business and not give away all our taxes. Thank you."

In other business:

* Community groups crowded in the commission's chambers to request money as the 2015 budget process begins. The total amount of funds proposed for distribution was $505,755.

Fort Hays State University President Edward Hammond, accompanied to the meeting by incoming FHSU President Mirta Martin, spoke to commissioners and said $100,000 for scholarships would help the college and stimulate the local economy. Wild West Festival ($9,500), Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development ($87,550), Ellis County Historical Society ($12,000), Downtown Hays Development Corp. ($53,655), Hays Sister Cities Advisory Board ($5,050), Hays Arts Council Inc. ($12,000) and the CARE Council ($166,000) all stated their cases and explained how their roles benefit the community. A budget request was submitted for $60,000 for Alcohol Tax funds.

* Commissioners analyzed a business proposal by NWK Investments to build a hotel and auto plaza with restaurants and fuel at 55th and 230th. James Millensifer, representing Chance Management Inc., joined Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, to pitch the project the business said it will bring the area $1.72 for every $1 spent in 10 years.

Although the group's initial plan was to ask city staff not to annex the property for 10 years in exchange for the company paying $2 million to connect water and sewer services, a new vision was shared. It seeks incentives such as a community improvement district, a transportation development district and 1-percent break on the city's sales tax.

Commissioners asked the group to apply for the economic incentives, contact the Trego County Rural Water District and better outline the number of jobs created.

* Commissioners agreed to further discuss taking action to discourage people from draining pools, hot tubs and water tanks into alleys.

* Commissioners decided they did not need to renew the moratorium on outside water customers because the drought response plan addressed the issue.