By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
The ending was somewhat anti-climatic.
For years a war of words surrounded development in Area C of Keizer Station.
By the time the Keizer City Council gave final approval Tuesday of plans calling for 180 apartments and a 154-unit retirement community, only a handful of people were in the audience – most of whom were people who had put the plan together. No one from the audience spoke.
The majority of discussion among councilors centered around sidewalks. Councilors approved the order by a 6-0 vote, with Dennis Koho abstaining from a vote and discussion due to a potential conflict of interest.
In short order, a master plan and lot line adjustment were approved and three previous orders for the area were repealed.
“A lot of my life got repealed,” mayor Cathy Clark quipped.
The approval Tuesday – a day later than usual due to President’s Day on Monday – was a formality after councilors approved the joint proposal by Mountain West Investment and Bonaventure Senior Living last month, which had been the first time councilors discussed the project.
Representatives from the two companies first met with city officials last September and soon after started meeting with neighbors.
A previous proposal to do commercial building – a rumored 116,000 square foot Walmart was the lightning rod – a few years ago was vigorously protested, in particular by Kevin Hohnbaum and his Keep Keizer Livable group. The plans from 2011 were hotly debated. A revised plan from the fall of 2012 was eventually passed, but nothing ever came of that project.
The previous groundwork in terms of a master plan for the land was utilized as the starting point for the current proposal, with an amendment deleting the previous medical office and substituting in the retirement community.
That seemed to be in the distant past on Tuesday as city attorney Shannon Johnson focused on two new additions to a staff report, a table listing off-site improvement fees and a description of sidewalks that will be constructed in the vicinity of the development, which will be along Chemawa Road and an expanded McLeod Lane.
“Earlier today I talked to the mayor about any concerns and she brought up one of sidewalks,” Johnson said. “I think there was a general understanding between city staff and the applicant of where sidewalks should be when (the project is) built out. The question was what should be done in the first phase.”
Thus, an 84th and final condition was added, calling for sidewalks to be built on the east side of Chemawa from the Chemawa/Lockhaven Avenue intersection to the southeast corner of the retirement community, from the existing sidewalk next to Countryside Church to the McLeod/Chemawa intersection, through Area C to the southeast corner of the area and on the opposite side of the McLeod/Chemawa intersection abutting retail development in Area C-2, continuing on McLeod past the multi-family development to the southeast corner of the development adjacent to the railroad tracks.
The sidewalks must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as Keizer street standards. The sidewalk sections need to be constructed before occupancy permits are issued.
“So this section 84 is brand new,” councilor Brandon Smith said, looking out to the audience. “Is the applicant aware of this?”
The answer was affirmative, with Community Development director Nate Brown noting the new agreement is on top of a previous requirement for sidewalks down Chemawa.
“The additional sidewalk along Chemawa on the south side is something where they will pay an amount to the city and the city will then construct a sidewalk within two years,” Brown said.
The off-site improvement fees are assessed in proportion to the share of transportation improvement costs, based on the number of estimated trips shown in the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA). Included are costs for the apartments and retirement community and several potential future retail buildings.
“The reason we wanted to do this is not for the current applicants but because we don’t know how long it might be before other phases come in,” Johnson said. “The idea is if someone just wanted to build a retail store, they would know exactly what had to be paid.”
In response to more sidewalk questions, Johnson explained the change.
“Unlike the first Area C plans where it would all be built at once, it’s clear now there may be a gap (between phases),” Johnson said. “These developers are putting in a lot more than required for their development.”