By CRISTINA JANNEY
Businesses in the L. Kuhn Addition 4 want Ellis County to start maintaining its roads again.
However, County Public Works Director Bill Ring said the county stopped maintaining the road about two years ago when he learned the property was not properly platted.
This means the roads legally are on private property. According to state statute, the county can’t work on private property. It also risks liability if it sends workers or equipment to the site.
Galen Romme, who represented the addition at the county commission meeting Monday, said it was the owners’ understanding the addition was properly platted by the City of Hays.
“We are just trying to figure out what we need to do to maintain [the roads] again and get back out there and help these businesses out,” Romme said.
Romme said there are about 45 people employed at businesses in the addition. Employers include the Frito-Lay distribution center, a FedEx facility and other businesses.
The addition lies within a three-mile zone in which both the city and county must approve the plat.
A final plat within the 3-mile Hays Extra-Territorial Zone is supposed to be approved by the Hays Planning Commission and then by the Ellis County Commission and finally by the Hays City Commission.
The final plat was approved by the city commission on Dec. 9, 2010, but it was never reviewed or approved by the county commission.
Ring with the assistance of the County Clerk’s office researched county records and found no reference to the plat in county commission records.
The city records indicated the city recommended the county commission approve the final plat contingent there would be a maintenance agreement with the county. No agreement was developed. The roads also were never inspected by the county, Ring said.
He questioned if the addition’s roads should be concrete or asphalt based on the amount of truck traffic in the addition. The addition also does not have a second entrance/exit to provide access for emergency vehicles.
“Some trucks have gotten stuck on the roadway going into the development, blocking other businesses access to their properties,” Ring said.
The addition has about 2,100 feet of roadway, not including a half roadway (285th Avenue) on the east side of the addition that was never fully developed.
“My position has to be protecting the best interest of Ellis County and keeping us out of any litigious situation,” Ring said. “Working on private property, again which is a violation of statute, is not in the best interest of Ellis County.”
Commissioner Butch Schlyer said he agreed with Ring, the county can’t work on private property because of liability issues.
County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes asked if the final plat could still come before the county commission for approval. Ring said it was his understanding that it could, but he would have some stipulations on maintenance for the roads.
Romme said, “Going back to what we were told was that the city was in charge of that 3-mile area. The county acted accordingly like it was an approved plat all these years. Actions also speak volumes of words.”
Commissioner Dustin Roths said, “I figure we readdress it and figure out what we can possibly do to take care of these businesses and [find] where there was a mix-up between the city and the county and the developer. [Let’s] figure out how we can take care of them, but it can’t be at our cost initially. We don’t have the funds to do this.”
Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst said the county has no idea if the road was constructed to county specifications. He said he thought the road would have to be brought up to county specifications before he would agree to approve the final plat.