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Month: June 2016

Parks fund can unlock SDCs

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Imagine having a $793,000 pot of money to spend on improving parks in the city of Keizer, but the only way to use it was to come up with another $6.1 million from other sources.

In the simplest terms, that’s the dilemma the city is facing when it comes to using existing system development charges (SDCs) to improve Keizer parks. The topic was the center of discussions at the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting Tuesday, June 14, as board members wrestled with the possibility of creating a dedicated parks fund by establishing a parks district within the city.

If the idea gains traction, Keizer residents would likely see the additional cost in the form of a surcharge added to utility bills.

Bill Lawyer, Keizer Public Works director, was on hand to answer questions about budgeting for parks as members of the board prepare to survey residents regarding needs and wants when it comes to recreation in the city.

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson
KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

Here is the lowdown on the parks budget as it currently exists:

• Parks comprise a minimum of 2.5 percent of the city’s total general fund. That money, which comes from the same fund that pays for police officers, is primarily used for maintenance of existing facilities and amenities.

• Parks also benefit from rental fees paid for the orchard and residence at Keizer Rapids Park and for a cell tower at Bair Park. It amounts to about $50,000 per annum, but only $10,000 per year is earmarked for improvements.

• The lion’s share of money available to improve parks comes from system development charges paid to the city when new homes and apartments are built. The city has two different SDCs accounts, one for fees collected before April 2009 and one of charges collected since that time. In both cases, the SDCs come with strings attached regarding where the funds can be used and in what amounts they can be used.

The regulations on fees collected before 2009 are somewhat more lax. Depending on when and where the money was collected, anywhere between 30 and 80 percent of fund can be used to improve parks of any size. The city still has almost $170,000 remaining in old SDC funds.

The larger pot of money is that collected since April 2009, about $793,000. The problem is that those fees can only be used to improve parks, not for maintenance or repair. On top of that, SDC fees can only be used to cover 13.6 percent of the costs of any improvement. For example, say city officials approve the installment of a new $100,000 play structure at your neighborhood park. SDC funds could only pay for $13,600 of the cost. The remaining $86,400 would have to come out of other parts of the city budget or through grants or sponsorships, which would also take staff time to track down and apply for – at a time when the budget is still stretched fairly thin on Keizer’s low property tax rate.

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson
KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

One of the most recent uses of new SDC money was $50,000 to “sweeten the proposal” for a grant application to upgrade surfaces at Keizer Rapids Park Big Toy and to build the first restrooms with flushing toilets in any city park. The percentage permitted for use on new projects is set by state law.

Given all that, a dedicated parks fund is seen as the key to unlock to door on using the money that’s already been collected.

“We have 13.6 available, but we don’t have the 86.4 percent to make things happen,” said parks board member Donna Bradley.

The board is considering adding the dedicated parks fee to utility bills. It would be collected per Keizer dwelling. No amount has been set, but a $2 month fee ($4 per billing cycle) would amount to an extra $355,200 in annual dedicated parks funding. At that amount, it would still take more than 16 years to unlock all of the existing $793,000 in new SDC funds.

Parks board members wrestled with the phrasing of questions on a survey they plan to send to residents for input on the issue.

Citing the last time the city tried to enact a utility fee – on cell phones in 2011, the proposal went down in flames  – board member, and former city councilor, Jim Taylor opposed using any funds collected on park improvements.

“I am adamant that this be maintenance only because people want it to be specific about how it’s going to help them. We’ve been down this road before,” Taylor said. “We need a ‘have to’ list not a ‘want to’ list. The maintenance is very, very difficult to get funding for and if we can take care of the maintenance, then we can go out and look for other projects.”

Parks board member JT Hager disagreed with that stance.

“We are already being frustrated with restrictions and we need the latitude to look at the funds and what needs doing,” Hager said. “I don’t think you’re giving enough credit to the intelligence on the (parks) board. I haven’t seen any indication or suggestion that anything (we’ve approved) wasn’t needed or wasn’t an improvement.”

Agenda for Keizer City Council

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

CITY OF KEIZER MISSION STATEMENT

KEEP CITY GOVERNMENT COSTS AND SERVICES TO A MINIMUM BY PROVIDING CITY SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY IN A COORDINATED, EFFICIENT, AND LEAST COST FASHION

AGENDA

KEIZER CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR SESSION

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Robert L. Simon Council Chambers

Keizer, Oregon

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. ROLL CALL

3. FLAG SALUTE

4. SPECIAL ORDERS OF BUSINESS

5. COMMITTEE REPORTS

6. PUBLIC TESTIMONY

This time is provided for citizens to address the Council on any matters other than those on the agenda scheduled for public hearing.

7. PUBLIC HEARINGS

8. ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION

a. RESOLUTION – Declaring a Vacancy for City Council Position Number One

b. Municipal Judge Report – Councilor Check In

c. RESOLUTION – Amending Fees Relating to Municipal Court Fees; Amending R2015-2570

9. CONSENT CALENDAR

a. RESOLUTION – Authorizing the City Manager to Purchase Three 2017 Ford K8A AWD Police Interceptor Vehicles for Police Department

b. Approval of June 20, 2016 Regular Session Minutes

10.COUNCIL LIAISON REPORTS

11.OTHER BUSINESS

This time is provided to allow the Mayor, City Council members, or staff an opportunity to bring new or old matters before the Council that are not on tonight’s agenda.

12.WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS

To inform the Council of significant written communications.

13.AGENDA INPUT

July 11, 2016

5:45 p.m. – City Council Work Session

Canceled

July 18, 2016

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

August 1, 2016

7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

14.ADJOURNMENT

Upon request, auxiliary aids and/or special services will be provided. To request services, please contact us at (503)390-3700 or through Oregon Relay at 1-800-735-2900 at least two working days (48 hours) in advance.

Skate park repairs falter

Isaiah Kraemer flies above a rim at Carlson Skate Park Monday, June 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Isaiah Kraemer flies above a rim at Carlson Skate Park Monday, June 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A group once interested in refurbishing the surfaces of Keizer’s Carlton Skate Park has pulled out of the project.

Keizerite Joe Bazan and owners of Lincoln City-based Dreamland Skateparks presented a proposal to the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in November 2014 and requested $12,000 in matching funds to cover the costs of resurfacing the park and enhancing its offerings.

Bazan returned in February 2015 with a revised proposal asking for $5,000, which was unanimously approved by the board.

At a meeting of the parks board Tuesday, June 14, Robert Johnson, Keizer parks manager, informed the members of the parks board that plans had fallen through.

“The individual interested in resurfacing Carlson Skate Park is no longer interested. It puts $5,000 back in the matching grant pot for someone else to take the lead, or for other projects that surface in the coming year,” Johnson said.

Carlson Skate Park opened in July 1999, but has since fallen into disrepair. Cracks and worn surfaces have meant that regular skateboarders and BMX bikers gather at the park and then spend a good deal of their riding time in the parking lot rather than on the ramps and bowls of the skate park.

At the time of the 2015 proposal, Bazan hoped to revamp much of the park at a total cost of approximately $32,000, with grants and sponsorships covering costs not incurred by the city.

“The majority of the park has no real transition, a lot of obstacles weren’t positioned correctly and they added pointless things (at the time it was built),” Bazan said in 2015.

With the return of the money to the parks matching-grant program, members of the board made no motion to earmark it for Carlson Skate Park.

“Are we interested in pursuing it?” asked Dylan Juran, a member of the board “I think it is worthwhile.”

Board member Jim Taylor noted that the longer repairs are delayed the more expensive the project is likely to get.

“At some point, it’s going to become a liability,” said Bill Lawyer, director of Keizer Public Works.

Armed robber eludes police twice

 

Keizer Police Department responded to two armed robberies in the wee hours Sunday, June 26.

Police officials suspect the same man in incidents at Cooper’s Deli & Pub, 5408 River Road N., and Quality Suites, 5188 Wittenberg Lane N.E.

At 12:57 a.m., officers responded to the report of an armed robbery at Cooper’s. The female victim, a cashier at the business, reported a single male adult entered the business and confronted her demanding money while displaying a black handgun. The suspect fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. He was last seen headed southbound on River Road North, but was not located.

At 2:30 a.m., police received a second report of an armed robbery at Quality Suites. A clerk reported a male subject entered the lobby of the hotel confronting him while displaying a black handgun and demanded money. The suspect fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash in an unknown direction of travel. A K-9 team from the Salem Police Department responded to this incident and searched the area for the suspect but he was not located.

The suspect is described as a light skinned Black Male Adult in his late 20’s, 5’11”, thin build with scruffy facial hair. He was wearing a dark gray hoodie and torn baggy jeans.

No injuries were reported with either incident.

Anyone having information about either armed robbery is asked to contact Sergeant Dan Kelley at 503-390-3713 Ext. 3479 or Officer Travis Ricketts at 503-390-3713 Ext. 3476.

KPD-02

Officer-involved shooting at convenience store

File
File

A Keizer police officer was involved in an on-duty shooting on Sunday June 26, at the 7-Eleven located on the corner of Lockhaven Drive North and River Road North.

At 8:18 p.m., officers from the Keizer Police Department responded to the convenience store after receiving a report that an armed robbery had just occurred at the business.

One Keizer Police officer arrived on scene and confronted the suspect.  During the confrontation the officer discharged his firearm striking the suspect. The suspect was transported to Salem Health for treatment of his injuries. The involved officer was not injured.

An investigation will be conducted by members of the Oregon State Police and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office. It is standard procedure for the Keizer Police Department to request the Oregon State Police conduct an independent investigation into an incident of this nature, said Jeff Kuhns, KPD deputy chief.

The name of the involved officer and the suspect are not being released at this time as additional time is needed to make notification to the families of those who were involved. The involved officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation, a standard proceure in officer-involved shootings.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Oregon State Police at 503-731-3030.

“This is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe

This is Your Brain on ParasitesThis is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe

c.2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
$27.00 / $39.00 Canada
288 pages

BOOK REVIEW
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

You didn’t get much sleep last night.  You were too busy checking windows.

The blame for that lies squarely on that creepy show you’ve been watching on TV; all you could think about was what it would be like to be eaten by zombies. But read the new book “This is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe, and you’ll see that the real danger isn’t outside your window.

It’s inside your skin.

As an adult human being, you are in control of your life. You’re rational, decisive, and interpretive – or are you? Could it be possible that your decisions, food choices, sex life, and personality are driven by something you picked up from your last vacation, your local grocery store, or your cat?

Yes, says science writer McAuliffe, it’s not only possible – it’s probable.

Parasites, which include viruses and bacteria, have been around for about as long as humans have, and some of them are beneficial: you literally could not live without the flora in your gut, for instance. As for the nasty ones, McAuliffe says, “virtually every aspect of the human body’s design bears witness” to their presence and to the “age-old struggle” to thwart what those parasites can do.

By definition, a parasite hitches a free ride from a host, and then rudely takes advantage of the host’s reluctant hospitality by stealing nourishment – and it would be bad enough, if that was all they did. As scientists have recently learned, though, some parasites also manipulate hosts for further gain, nicer living quarters, or for reproduction. It happens to mice and rats, birds, ants, snails, beetles, cats and dogs — and maybe you.

Some parasites, says McAuliffe, may “alter human odor to enhance our attractiveness to mosquitoes…” Others, like the Black Death, can outright kill us. To a scientist, your personal parasites identify you. Parasites can paralyze you, make you sniffly, and they can disgust you (thus, saving your life). They may help in choosing a mate.

And, yes, they might eat your brain…

Is it possible to read “This is Your Brain on Parasites” without scratching?  I don’t think so. This book is creepy like that – but it’s also absolutely mesmerizing.

With a surprisingly light tone that sometimes edges toward humor, author Kathleen McAuliffe manages to do several things at once in this book. She takes readers, first of all, inside laboratories, animal burrows, and hospital rooms to show us how parasites invade pretty much everything living. That’ll sometimes make your flesh crawl – eeuw, is it on me?? – but it also serves to make parasites awfully interesting, too. Finally, in a Big Picture view of what those hangers-on have done to other creatures, McAuliffe poses the Big Question: what have they done to us?

Try not to think about that too much before you’ve read this book, and then try not to let it bother you. There’s little you can do about unwanted hitchhikers anyhow, so read “This is Your Brain on Parasites” and just relax. Seriously, don’t let it eat at you…

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Hopkins retires from Keizer Elementary

Gay Hopkins stands in front of a pair of portraits her second grade students painted. Hopkins is retiring after being in the Salem-Keizer School District for 31 years. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)
Gay Hopkins stands in front of a pair of portraits her second grade students painted. Hopkins is retiring after being in the Salem-Keizer School District for 31 years. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

At the end of every school year, Gay Hopkins gets out her magic wand and turns all her Keizer Elementary second graders into third graders.

It’s a ritual that has meant so much to students that one recently asked Hopkins to bring the wand to her graduation at Linfield College to turn her into a nurse.

But Hopkins did her magic for the final time last week.

Lessons-Learned

After 34 years, 31 in the Salem-Keizer School District, including 18 at Keizer Elementary, she is retiring.

Hopkins has wanted the same thing for all of her students—a great life and an invite to their graduation.

“I hope my enthusiasm for learning really makes a difference for all of my students,” she said. “I want them to feel positive that they can do it. I want them to appreciate and enjoy what they’ve got.”

While her mom was a teacher, it was once the last thing Hopkins wanted to be when she grew up.

“In middle school, I was absolutely not going to be a teacher,” she said. “I think it was rebellious. I’m not going to be like my parents.”

But in high school she changed her mind and enrolled at Western Oregon University.

After graduation, Hopkins accepted a position in South America, teaching English to kindergarteners in Colombia.

“I always wanted to go overseas and be a foreign exchange student as a kid,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t quite have the guts to do it while I was in high school. I learned Spanish. I learned a new culture. It was marvelous.”

After three years, Hopkins followed her roommate in Colombia to Richmond Elementary in Salem. She then came to Keizer in 1999, taught first grade for a year and then moved to second.

“It was interesting when I came to Keizer because there’s a more smaller town feel here and more volunteers,” Hopkins said. “I had a couple wonderful men who would volunteer in my classroom and take kids and read to them. It’s been a really nice fit to be here at Keizer. I really have loved it, all these years, and everyone is very caring and kind and there’s a more spirit of volunteerism here, which I really appreciate.”

Hopkins acknowledged the profession has changed over the years.

She once had a kid who was interested in giant squids so her class did animal reports and learned a lot about giant squids that year. However, due to Common Core and other state standards, that would be harder to do now.

“I like a little bit more of that flexibility where you can have a little bit bigger choice,” she said. “I love the creative element of teaching. For me that’s been great to design and develop lessons and what will be meaningful for kids and what activities will spark their interest, what will they learn and grow from most. When you have kids that are enthusiastic about learning something, it sticks with them.”

Hopkins’ interests include reading, dinosaurs and art.

As a kid, Hopkins remembers not getting in trouble when she would draw on the walls. Instead her mom would say, “Why don’t you use nice paper.”

“Art is my speciality and I told the staff if they invite me back, I’ll teach art lessons if they like.”

On the wall in her classroom is a Vincent Van Gough painting she brought back from Paris.

“I like to bring a bit of the world into my classroom,” Hopkins said.

She is looking forward to traveling more and plans to paint Claude Monet’s garden either this fall or next summer. She’s going to Washington, D.C. later this month.

Before Hopkins walked out of Keizer Elementary for the last time as a full-time teacher, she made sure to sign up as a volunteer.

“I have one boy, he lost his mom this year to cancer,” Hopkins said. “It’s really rough. I’m hoping to come back and read to him and eat lunch with him and his brother.”

Hopkins hasn’t ruled out teaching again, maybe even overseas. Another teacher at Keizer Elementary has taken a job at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and invited Hopkins to visit.

“Teaching is such a great pleasure to me,” Hopkins said. “I like being enthusiastic about learning new things. I feel like a calling to it, like driven towards it. It will be really interesting to see how that transition goes to not doing this everyday and not starting a class in September We’ll see where life takes me. It’s going to be a new adventure and I’m looking forward to it.”

Business move revived south River Road offices

After leasing an office at 132 Glynbrook Street, off River Road, two years ago, Geoff and Valerie White now own both buildings on the site. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
After leasing an office at 132 Glynbrook Street, off River Road, two years ago, Geoff and Valerie White now own both buildings on the site. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERICA. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

When Valerie and Geoff White signed a lease to move their property management and construction businesses to Keizer in July 2014, it was something of a watershed moment.

“There hadn’t been an office lease signed in Keizer in the previous nine months,” said Valerie.

Their businesses, Encompass Management & Consulting (EMC) and Central Valley Construction Group, were truly only about a year old at the time. But, since setting down stakes at 132 Glynbrook Street N., EMC has grown from nine employees to 32 and helped revitalize two suites of office space on the site. It led to the Whites purchasing both buildings two months ago.

“We were terrified because the businesses were so young,” Geoff said. “But it was the right time for each step we took and nothing felt forced.”

Since leasing a space on the property, which had been vacant for almost six years after a local attorney moved to a new location, the number of other tenants has also grown to include an in-home care administration office, a hearing device office, a flooring company, a training center for a knife company, a bookkeeping firm and an excavation company.

“We still have space available and I would love to add some retail business. We could easily accommodate something like a nail salon,” said Valerie.

Geoff and Valerie set up EMC in 2011, but both were working for The Rushing Group at the time. Geoff worked in the construction side while Valerie had worked her way up to assistant vice president of the whole corporation.

When Bo Rushing approached Valerie with the proposition of selling the property management side of the business, Valerie asked if she and Geoff could make an offer.

Thirty days later, the Whites were setting up their own office in south Salem across the parking lot from The Rushing Group.

“We started in a one-room office on south Commercial because we thought we had to have an office there to do what we do,” Valerie said.

“It made sense at the time because there was a lot of development in the area and it was kind of a hotbed. It also allowed us to transfer everything over gradually, and it was more convenient for existing customers,” Geoff added.

As they got their feet under them, the bloom started slowly falling off the rose. The Whites lived in Keizer and were putting forth the effort to remain involved in the community, particularly through coaching Keizer sports teams for daughters Kailyn and Madison, despite the business headquarters in Salem. Geoff, a 1993 graduate of McNary High School, took on a role as an assistant coach of the Celtic freshman football team and the needs of the business were hampering his passion for coaching.

“It doesn’t seem like 20-30 minutes of drive time is that much, but it can make a big difference in a day,” Geoff said.

They contacted a friend who knew the previous owner of the Glynbrook building to see what they could arrange.

“We met at Burger King to pencil it out and, the next thing you know, we were signing a lease,” Geoff said.

Even though they’ve been in town for two years, it’s not uncommon for them to get some pushback from customers who don’t want to travel “all the way” to Keizer. But the results of the move are hard to overlook.

Today, EMC employs property managers, administrative staff, maintenance supervisors and maintenance staff, field operation managers, site managers that have their own maintenance personnel and a marketing manager.

“We’re managing properties from the coast to Bend and up to Portland,” Valerie said.

Geoff keeps busy with small-ish construction projects that currently include a five-lot subdivision in west Salem.

“We have plans people can choose from but I like custom building. I have a lot of fun working on interiors and layouts with our clients,” Geoff said.

While they’ve succeeded to a large degree on their own merits, Geoff said guidance and assistance from colleagues in The Rushing Group along with Curt Arthur of Sperry Van Ness and the buildings’ previous owner Kent Aldrich has been invaluable.

“The bottom line is we love Keizer, and we’re invested in what is going on here. Being part of revitalizing this little corner of River Road means the world to us,” Geoff said.

Crushing the competition

Oregon Panthers Brielle Lowery, Hannah Jensen, Celina Ball, Ava Prechel, Lacey Vasas, Kayla Toavs, Hailey Schwinof, Margo McManus, KJ Custer, Brookelynn Jackson and Sophia Fuller are 40-7 since forming in August. (Submitted)
Oregon Panthers Brielle Lowery, Hannah Jensen, Celina Ball, Ava Prechel, Lacey Vasas, Kayla Toavs, Hailey Schwinof, Margo McManus, KJ Custer, Brookelynn Jackson and Sophia Fuller are 40-7 since forming in August. (Submitted)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

With a 40-7 overall record and outscoring their opponents 518 to 124, the Oregon Panthers have already proved they’re the best 10-and-under Amateur Softball Association team in the state.

So instead of competing against girls their own age in Beaverton, the Panthers will jump up to the 12-and-under state tournament in Clackamas. Both are July 1-3.

They’ll also get an automatic bid to ASA Nationals in Stockton, Calif., where they’ll compete against 30 of the best 10-and-under teams from all over the country July 31-Aug. 7.

Before nationals, the Panthers will again test themselves against 12U teams in the National American Fastpitch Association Western Regional in Newberg in the middle of July.

Playing in 12U tournaments won’t be new to the Panthers, who have already won two of three 12U tournaments they’ve played in and tallied a 13-4 record against older teams.

But head coach Jamie Vasas, who won a state championship as a baseball player at McNary, said the 12U state tournament will be the Panthers toughest test to date.

“We should do well,” he said. “It would be neat winning both. We’ll at least compete in that. Skill level they [Panthers] are there [even] but the girls grow so much in that 10 to 12.”

The Panthers, which are made up of girls from Keizer, Salem, McMinnville, Corvallis and Oregon City, formed in August and have played year-round.

The program was started 30 years ago by Keizer resident Jerry Orlando and the girls practice on the field in his front yard.

Korrine Jackson, who won a softball state championship at McNary, is also on the coaching staff. Both Vasas and Jackson’s daughters, Lacey and Brookelynn, play for the Panthers.

“It’s nothing that we’ve coached,” Vasas said. “The girls are just really good. We’ve got really good pitching, fielding. Everyone on the team can hit. It’s just an overall good team.”

The team includes Lacey, Brookelynn, Sophia Fuller, Hailey Schwinof, Kayla Toavs, KJ Custer, Celina Ball, Brielle Lowery, Hannah Jensen and Ava Prechel.

Jeff Ball and Troy Custer help coach.

Thanks to an indoor facility in Salem, the Panthers can practice and play year-round.

“They put a lot of time and effort into being able to do what they can do,” Vasas said. “It’s pretty impressive. They’ve done it themselves. They are very talented. They put the effort it. There’s not a team that comes around too often that can do what they’ve done.”

The Panthers’ dominance continued last weekend as they won the Play for the Cure tournament at Wallace Marine Park in Salem.

The Panthers won the championship game 12-2.

“None of the games are close when we play 10,” Vasas said. “That’s why we’re playing 12.”

Second baseman Margo McManus hit a home run during the tournament.

“I was there all day and you don’t even see that from 14-year-olds,” Vasas said.

Plans change, fears remain

File photo
File photo

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Citing traffic concerns, impacts to schools, construction concerns and livability issues, Keizer residents sounded off against the proposed rezoning of the area affectionately known as the “cow park.”

Owners of the property, heirs to the Joseph and Rosalie Herber, are asking the city to rezone the 7.5 acres located along the west side of Verda Lane Northeast between Chemawa Road Northeast and Dearborn Avenue Northeast from low density residential to medium high density residential, which would permit the construction of 112 apartments on the site.

The rezoning was denied by the city council two years ago citing the need for single family residences, impacts on nearby residences and transportation impacts, but developer Mark Grenz appeared before the Keizer City Council Monday, June 20, with rejiggered plans and another request for a rezone.

If the property were to remain low density residential, up to 50 single family homes could be built there.

The  public hearing on the matter was extended after it came to light that there is possible historic value to the home already on the site, but city residents wasted little time in attempting to dismantle the proposal as it currently exists.

While the city has a projected need for apartments during the next 20 years, using the Herber property to meet the need didn’t fly with nearby resident Judith Odle.

“We already have 405 apartments, 105 mobile homes, three churches, four schools and Keizer Little League Park in a six-block radius. We’ve got a lot already,” Odle said.

Her husband, Larry Odle questioned whether the time being spent on rezoning couldn’t be spent more wisely.

“Couldn’t we have come up with a solution that benefitted the community and still get the Herbers their inheritance?” he asked.

The issue of the city purchasing the property came up tangentially throughout the proceedings. After the hearing ended, much of the packed house filed out of chambers and no one spoke when the council opened up another hearing on suggestions for using and estimated $325,000 in funds the city will receive shared state revenues.

Traffic impacts topped the list of concerns with several residents chiming in on topics ranging from an increased number of vehicles in an already busy corridor to where overflow parking for the apartments would end up.

Resident Karen Okada picked apart a statement detailing the impact to schools in the area. Salem-Keizer School District officials estimated an increase of about 41 total students to Kennedy Elementary School, Claggett Creek Middle School and McNary High School, but Okada took issue with the rest of the impacts.

“In their letter, (the school district) suggests that the developer should provide paved walk routes to allow access. Right now, the two streets leading from the proposed apartments to Kennedy do not have sidewalks, but that is not part of their proposal. It is another cost the city will have to bear,” Okada said.

Several opponents said the owners’ proposal to donate a tax lot west of the development to the city for use as a park was disingenuous.

“The property to be donated is pretty much under water during the rainy season. I’m wondering how you could do much with that property,” said Marylin Prothero.

Testimony also focused repeatedly around proposed apartment designs. While Grenz offered up potential previews of the structures in his presentation, the land would likely be sold to another developer if the rezone is approved, at which point it would be up to the new developer to determine how the buildings would actually look.

“The plan seems like a red herring. I’ve been a carpenter and I can tell you from experience that developers are not concerned about the community. They want to put the most families in for the least cost,” said Casey Sanders.

Nate Brown, Keizer community development director, said city staff was willing to work with the current owners to come up with more concrete design standards that would become conditions once a new developer buys the property, but that did little to alleviate anxiety.

“Realistically, how much time is the city willing to spend to enforcing those guidelines?” asked Jerry Walton.

Resident Paul Elder said he moved with his wife to Keizer to raise their family and the proposed rezoning would affect the overall quality of life.

“I understand the Herber family wants the property value (that comes with a different zoning), but that door swings both ways. I don’t want the impact this is going to have on our community,” Elder said. “Homes make families, not a transient (apartment) population. We want people who are in it for the long haul.”