Let’s hear it for movers and shakers

By Carol Walker

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It may be noisy at this time of the year with the increased traffic, it might be next to impossible to make a left hand turn onto the highway and getting through the grocery store quickly in the summer is sometimes challenging, but this is Hill City during tourist season. I love it.

I appreciate the small business owners and entrepreneurs who take a chance and create quality shops on Main St. There are industrious people from here and around the world who help the restaurants and motels and gift shops put on a good face in the summer, greeting our guests, making them comfortable and helping them to feel at home. It is an honor to know that people want to come here, to see the beauty of the Hills and spend their precious vacation time in South Dakota.

We may have had our share of high temperatures this year, but the nights have cooled down. We may have had rain that has ruined an outing or two, hail that shredded garden plants and deer that have eaten flowers, but boy is it green this year, in August!

It may seem odd, but something great on the horizon in Hill City is the public restrooms. Many in the community have been talking for a long time about the need for restrooms that fit with the quality of our downtown area. The creation of the Business Improvement District (BID) and the BID project that is now underway to solve that problem by adding on to the senior center is a testament to the people who have brainstormed and moved ahead to make it happen.

Monday night at the P&Z meetin, I saw other reasons why I think Hill City is a great place to live. The commission has spent many hours looking at architectural styles that would fit with a look Hill City wants to maintain, and this week they used those previous discussions to help guide the architecture of a new building in town.

In addition, recently the city paid for a housing study to determine what is really needed in Hill City. With the study hot off the presses, officials are taking it to heart, opening discussions on what can be done to take on the challenges of affordable housing in our little community.

The Heart of the Hills Economic Development Corporation is looking at what it would take to secure property on which to build apartments, duplexes or senior housing. That is a direct application from the housing study.

Dani Schade, development services coordinator, put together a list of vacation rentals in Hill City, and the commission began a discussion on the merits and downsides of vacation rentals. Will the free market adequately handle the ratio of vacation rentals to long term housing, or does the city need to establish a cap on the number of vacation rentals? This is an important discussion, one that is going on in many communities in the United States.

The topic of variances was brought up at the meeting. How are they given out as people ask to build on property? Should one variance be considered setting a precedent for the next one requested, or should each one be handled case by case?

The possibility of a tiny house community was also brought up on Monday night as a way for Hill City to provide affordable housing targeting a segment of population highlighted in the housing study. Single people, ages 24 – 35 earning between $15,000 and $35,000 per year who currently pay 37 percent or more of their income for rent may be able to benefit from such housing and reduce their rent and utility fees. It is a type of housing that fits with the ambiance of Hill City and could be affordable for the developer as well as the renter.

We have movers and shakers in Hill City that look at where we have been as a town, what is happening now and look into the future. I appreciate their hard work and insight. They represent us as decisions are made for the community, so let them know your ideas, so that our town can continue to be a great place to live and an attractive place for guests to visit.

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