Mayor charges council to dare and endure

The Hillsboro City Council met for their first meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 2 where Mayor Lou Thurston shared some of his thoughts for the upcoming year.

“I was thinking about this year and what we’re facing—all the opportunities and the challenges that we’re facing. One of my historical heroes is Winston Churchill. So this is my theme for this year,” said Thurston. “It’s no time for ease and comfort. It’s time to dare and endure. You know, that sounds pretty rugged, but you know what? This is a new year.

“It’s time to step out of our comfort zone to embrace the challenges that we’ve got in front of us and persist in the face of adversity because we’re gonna have some adversity in this coming year. No doubt about it. Churchill’s words emphasize the need for courage, resilience and determination. And confronting difficult times head-on. 2024 will be a year of continued challenge, but it will also be a year of great opportunities.

“It’s up to us as individuals, as leaders, and as a community to decide how we will respond. I urge you all to join me in choosing to dare and endure. Let’s make 2024 Hillsboro’s best year yet.”

The board learned about an ordinance of an A-H Alternative Construction Housing District zoning for the property at 110 E 3rd Street which would allow for the construction of a shipping container home.

Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles explained that the property is owned by Kansas Home Solutions LLC who made the application request.

“So we held the public hearing for this. Nobody came to the public hearing even after all the talk about container homes. That was one of the things we kind of expected but then no one came. We had the full set of plans out there, and we’ve received no public comments on that,” said Stiles.

The public hearing was held by the Planning Commission on Dec. 14. Notice of the hearing was published and the surrounding neighbors were sent letters regarding the hearing. As part of the requirements of the AH zoning, the Planning Commission required a full set of engineered plans, a site plan and a rendering of the final product be provided with the application. There were some minor changes needed on the plans, which the Planning Commission empowered the Building Inspector to correct with the developer. The Planning Commission was satisfied with the plans and voted to recommend that A-H Alternative Construction Housing District zoning be approved by the City Council.

The full set of plans is available to review at https://www.cityofhillsboro.net/site-home/news/december-14-2023-planning-commission-meeting-agenda The anticipated construction cost of the home is $175,000. The home will be constructed out of four shipping containers and will be 1,200 square feet (3 bedrooms, 2 baths). The estimated sale price is to be determined.

The council approved the ordinance.

In other business, the council:

* swore in new council member Ronald Wilkins, returning council member Blake Beye and Mayor Lou Thurston; the council members thanked outgoing member David Loewen for his years of service

* selected Brent Driggers as Council President

* approved vouchers totaling $249,140.59

* approved appointment of Clint Corby to an additional four-year term on the Rec Commission

* appointed Mayor Thurston as voting representative to the Flint Hills Regional Council

* reviewed the strategic plan and all that has been accomplished on it; plans were discussed to work on the plan again in the coming months

* learned that the year’s local sales tax collection finished 4% below 2022’s collection which was the highest ever recorded at $1,028,095.88. According to Stiles, the 2023 collections, while down from 2022, were the second largest ever at $983,941.57. The local Hillsboro sales tax base remains strong despite the loss of a few businesses this year.

* heard that the city’s membership in the Flint Hills Regional Council will start at the Jan. 19 meeting. The FHRC hopes to receive word back on the EPA planning grant in the early spring. If awarded, the FHRC will be providing free planning services for Hillsboro focused on economic growth. The city will have the opportunity to highlight the partnership with Tabor on the Center for Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial development is a focus of the FHRC in 2024.

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