Posted 2/02/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Ray’s future may lie to the west of town. City planners are preparing for the possibility with a proposed amendment to the 2015 Comprehensive Plan.
The Ray Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing this month on the proposals.
This plan amendment defines long-range land use and economic development policy for lands buffering U.S. 2 on the west side of town.
According to Ray planner Brent Moore, the development of the amendment is initiated by two primary factors. The city commission is still expecting and wanting to facilitate growth of the town.
And the county recently approved a rezoning of a parcel of land in the area of focus along the highway from agricultural to commercial, paving the way for its development.
“There was quite a bit of discussion of that corridor being an opportunity for development in Ray,” Moore explained, speaking of the guidance from the 2015 plan.
The corridor would be zoned as mixed use, meaning it would permit commercial and residential developments.
The plan also contains guidance on state annexation procedures.
The amendment notes 70 acres of private land within Ray have been developed in the past four years, and in that time the city made $4 million in infrastructure improvements to accommodate a population of up to 2,500 people.
Much of those investments were made when the population was expected to reach that in a couple decades. Forecasts have changed considerably in the wake of falling commodity prices.
Moore acknowledged these changes but said the amendment is not prompted in response to any growth projections. It’s a promotional and planning tool for the city.
“We all recognize the boom has slowed down but the City of Ray would still like to promote growth,” he said.
The amendment contains language explaining how it acts as an economic development driver by facilitating growth that leads to stable employment and a growing tax base.
“Not only does it improve the livability of a community, economic development is an investment into the community,” the amendment reads.
The amendment also advises on land use within the current city boundaries in the Ray corridor. It identifies three areas it calls potential sites for catalyst projects.
These projects, the document explains, “kick start” other developments and growth around it.
These three areas are located south of the corridor and include the ballpark next to NCC. The amendment suggests, if the community is agreeable, this recreational facility could be relocated to unlock this area for mixed-use development.
Anyone wishing to submit comments can do so at the public hearing at the Ray City Hall on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Written comments may also be submitted to the city auditor’s Office prior to the meeting date.