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Dwellings per acre rules will now be consistent throughout Keizer

Keizer City Councilors discuss an item during their meeting on Monday, May 2. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Keizer City Councilors discuss an item during their meeting on Monday, May 2. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

If Keizer allows eight dwellings per acre, why should one area have a limitation of six dwellings per acre?

That question came up during Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting.

The proposed revision to the Keizer Development Code, previously approved by the Keizer Planning Commission, deals with a limit on parcels located north of Barnick Road. While other Residential Single zones in the city have a limit of eight dwellings per acre, the area north of Barnick has a limit of six dwellings.

Nate Brown, Community Development director for the city, said there is a simple reason the restriction was put into place.

“When this restriction was created, the northern part of the city lacked both sanitary sewer and public water to adequately accommodate a level of density found in other areas of the city,” Brown said. “With the public improvements that now serve this area, combined with the number of parcels that been have re-divided, this density restriction is no longer appropriate.”

Mayor Cathy Clark noted a key reason for the change.

“We are looking for areas to allow for more housing,” Clark said.

Brown acknowledged that is an “important part” of the reason for the change, since the city is facing a projected housing shortfall for future growth.

“To have an artificial cap in this one area is inconsistent with the long-term goals of both the city and the state,” Brown said.

In response to a question from councilor Roland Herrera, Brown noted things looked different when the cap was put into place many years ago.

“It was a more rural, lesser developed part of town originally,” Brown said. “There was less water and sewer infrastructure in this part of the city, so there was a concern this could overwhelm the fabric of the infrastructure. Again, this goes back decades.”

City Attorney Shannon Johnson also referenced how different things were at the time.

“My recollection, and this is probably 20 years ago, this area of Clear Lake was totally undeveloped,” Johnson said. “A lot of people out there were on acreage farms and were concerned about development to their rural areas. The reality is that most of the development in the city is closer to six units per acre. I don’t think the change to eight units per acre will make a difference out there, this just makes it more consistent with the rest of the city.”

Brown said the minimum lot size by city code is 5,000 square feet.

“The reality is, with the current development practice, once you add in the road you’re only seeing six units per acre currently,” he said. “Cottage clusters could be more dense. This doesn’t get us much difference than what we currently have.”

Councilors unanimously approved the change on a 6-0 vote, with Dennis Koho absent.