HAYS — Graders and dump trucks can be seen doing preliminary dirt work on a planned 40-acre truck plaza development north of Interstate 70 at Exit 157 on the western outskirts of Hays.

But developers won’t start actual construction until they hear from the city of Hays about whether they can get Tax Increment Financing incentives to bring water and sewer under the four-lane divided interstate highway.

“They are indeed putting together the documents they need to make application for incentives for a TIF for infrastructure for the projects,” said Doug Williams, executive director of Grow Hays. “At the same time they are busy soliciting hotels and restaurants for the development ... all of that will be submitted to the city.”

The application for the TIF will likely be on the agenda for the Hays City Commission in the next 30 days, Williams estimated.

“I don’t think it’ll be anything surprising to the city, because they’ve been talking about it,” Williams said.

Mark Hess, vice president of operations for Hess Services Inc., and a travel stop developer out of Topeka have formed the company that will apply for the incentives, said Williams, who has been working with the developers as the area’s economic development representative.

The developers also plan to ask the city of Hays to annex the property from the county. The process for the TIF and annexation, some of which requires publishing a legal notice and holding a public hearing, could take as long as five to six months, Williams said. The developers are bringing the property to grade now so it’ll be ready for permitting and construction if the incentives are approved.

The development is part of a larger plan to improve 230th Avenue, currently a hilly, narrow, limestone rock road handling heavy semi-tractor truck traffic going to industrial businesses in the northwest area of the county. Among those is the multi-building campus of Hess Services Inc., which employs 360 people manufacturing oilfield production equipment for customers throughout North Dakota, Colorado and Texas.

Williams said plans call for a truck stop, truck wash, restaurants, a couple of hotels and some retail stores.

The Kansas Department of Transportation in years past committed funding for the exit improvements.

“It’s going to be good for Hays,” Williams said. “It does put infrastructure north of the interstate, which has been a barrier to development. It costs millions of dollars to get water and sewer under the interstate.”