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Hearing for Area C next Tuesday

A sign gives notice of next week's hearing at city hall about proposed development for Keizer Station Area C, seen here in the background. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
A sign gives notice of next week’s hearing at city hall about proposed development for Keizer Station Area C, seen here in the background. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Station Area C is the subject of a public hearing again next week.

A revised proposal for apartments and a retirement community facility will be discussed during the Jan. 20 Keizer City Council meeting. The meeting is a day later than usual due to Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The 7 p.m. meeting takes place in council chambers at Keizer Civic Center, 930 Chemawa Road NE.

The area in question drew plenty of attention a few years back, when plans called for a large retail outlet – believed at the time to be Walmart – to build a 116,000 square foot store.

A size limit of 80,000 square feet for retail space was subsequently put into place. Mountain West Investments and Bonaventure Senior Housing LLC have submitted the revised application for land owned by Oregon Territory Development and Jerold and Kathleen Egner. The portion impacted would be about 17 acres, or half of Area C.

The proposal was originally planned to be brought to council last month, before veteran councilors Jim Taylor, Joe Egli and longtime mayor Lore Christopher left their seats. However, some updates were needed and thus the issue is coming up next week.

Even with the delay, the staff report wasn’t finished until late Tuesday afternoon. The overall package sent to councilors is 567 pages, including a 70-page staff report. The Keizertimes received a copy of the package Tuesday evening.

Sam Litke, the senior planner for Keizer, said the new applicants were able to use the previously approved Area C master plan as a starting point. That plan, amended several times and the subject of a Land Use Board of Approvals (LUBA) hearing, was approved in April 2013.

Litke said changes since the proposal was submitted last fall include new traffic impact analysis and storm drainage analysis, both done last month.

“They had to redo the traffic impact analysis (TIA),” Litke said. “They did it in December. The project went from large format retail to multi-family use. The previous (TIA) was the previous one from the 2010 proposal.”

Infrastructure and other improvements would be the financial responsibility of the applicants.

“The TIA has identified improvements to the transportation system to mitigate the impacts created by the proposed development,” the staff report reads in part.

What happens next with the new proposal should be a bit clearer come next week.

“This could be done on Tuesday or there could be more public hearings,” Litke said. “It’s up to council. They can make a decision on Tuesday.”

While a majority of the already approved master plan would remain unchanged, key alterations in the new proposal include a 53,000 square foot medical facility being replaced with a 150-unit senior living retirement facility. In addition, the number of buildings, design and specific location have been modified. Plans submitted last fall call for Mountain West to put in 180 apartments on both sides of an expanded McLeod Lane, with some apartments adjacent to a 154-unit Bonaventure senior retirement community facility.

The staff report lists 80 conditions of approval. Though the proposal focuses on the retirement community and apartments, previously approved portions are still valid.

“The mix of uses proposed, with the exception of the senior living facility, is similar to what was approved in the 2011 and 2013 approvals,” the staff report reads in part. “This includes office, restaurant(s), retail uses and multi-family development throughout the site. The mix of uses complies with the code’s requirements for balancing retail and non-retail/multi-family development and can be adequately served with infrastructure. The findings in the 2011 and 2013 master plan approvals determining that the mix of uses was appropriate, relied upon Area C’s zoning, the (Keizer Station Plan’s) allocation of 135,000 square feet of retail to Area C, the intent of Area C to be an economic engine and the variety of uses in Area C. None of these elements of appropriateness have been modified by the proposed master plan, so the findings remain valid and are consistent with this provision as well as with the purpose of the mixed use zone that encourages a variety of uses.”

During an October meeting with neighbors, representatives from both Bonaventure and Mountain West made it clear their respective companies have no interest in developing the commercial portion of Area C.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Ben Settecase with Bonaventure said at the time. “We’re excited about the possibility of amending the Area C master plan. It would be a first for us (in Keizer). We have our roots in the greater Salem area. We’re heavily invested in (our facilities) and the communities they’re located in.”

Brian Moore from Mountain West expressed similar thoughts at the meeting.

“The most important thing to understand is we’re only developing a portion (of Area C),” Moore said. “We only control some of the property. We don’t control much of it. The area that is commercial we don’t control and we don’t plan to develop.”

Moore said plans call for three-story buildings with amenities such as a fitness center, pool, outdoor recreational area, a sports court, playground areas and carports.

“This will not be low-income housing,” he said. “We are seeking to achieve the highest rents available in the market.”

Settecase noted the senior living proposal calls for a footprint of 55,000 square feet, with 160,000 total square feet of space since the facility will be one level in places and up to four levels in other places.

Moore estimated it would take 12 to 14 months from the time of approval until the first units would be done.