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Special election on big box may cost about $20K

Members of Keep Keizer Livable deliver petitions to the Keizer Civic Center Monday, Oct. 18. They said they’ve collected about 3,770 signatures. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

Of the Keizertimes

A decision on whether big-box retail restrictions will be on a March 2011 ballot should come by Nov. 2, officials said.

Keep Keizer Livable collected approximately 3,770 signatures, just about 1,000 more than necessary to make the ballot. However, the petitions must be verified to show each signature belongs to a registered Keizer voter.

Signatures will be forwarded to Marion County, and the city has 15 days after Monday, Oct. 18 (the date the petition was filed with the city) to announce whether the measure will qualify for a special election ballot in March 2011.

It’s expected costs of administering the election will be anywhere between $22,822 and $27,387, said City Recorder Tracy Davis.

Davis said the expected cost of the general election came from Marion County’s elections supervisor. She said the estimated cost for an election outside the primary and general are about $1.25 to $1.50 per voter; Keizer had 18,258 registered voters as of July 21. Davis said an exact figure should be available in early January.
The measure would restrict retail buildings larger than 65,000 square feet to Area A of Keizer Station. This is where Target, Lowe’s and all other Keizer Station development has taken place to date.
The petition is the latest round in what has turned into a three-year battle between Keep Keizer Livable, several city councilors and developers Chuck Sides and Alan Roodhouse, who propose building a discount grocer as the centerpiece of a development at the southeast corner of Chemawa Road and Lockhaven Drive – a site perhaps better known at this point as Area C.

The area had been limited to stores no larger than 10,000 square feet; developers sought – and got – changes to the development code allowing stores as big as 135,000 square feet, and a subsequent amendment allowed that number to go even higher.

Sides, who was at the civic center on an unrelated manner when the group came in, said the master plan for Area C could be ready as soon as next week, and won’t look substantially different than it did when an informal version was presented to Keep Keizer Livable a few months ago.

“They’re a very energetic group,” Sides said of the petitioners. “That’s what activists do.”

It started out as more or less a neighborhood squabble – Kevin Hohnbaum and Jane Mulholland, a married couple who live near Area C, founded Keep Keizer Livable.

On Monday, the two, along with 10 or so other supporters, dropped off boxes of signed petitions at the Keizer Civic Center.

And they acknowledge the battle has gotten bigger than Area C.

“The people of Keizer are very, very interested in what’s happening here,” Mulholland said. “… All of this started because we read a little article in the Keizertimes.”

Going door-to-door supporting the measure was encouraging, Mulholland said, saying she personally got about 90 percent of the households she visited to sign the petition. Overall the group reports success between 65 and 70 percent.

“It’s affirming that many, many people in our city want some control over where the growth is,” said Cathey Philbrick, who has been volunteering on KKL’s behalf.