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Master plan change pushes theater deal one step closer

Of the Keizertimes

A change to the Keizer Station Area B master plan, approved by the Keizer City Council Monday, July 17, inches the city closer to closing a deal for a movie theater.

The city is in talks with the owner of Cinemagic to lease a space in the area across from the Salem-Keizer Transit Center on Keizer Station Boulevard. The deal would be a first for the city, which has chosen to sell property like the one in question to developers. However, rather than a one-time injection of revenue, a lease deal creates a new revenue stream.

At the meeting Monday, councilors approved text changes that would allow one 24,000 square foot building to be constructed rather than an assortment of smaller ones.

“The city is currently in discussions about leasing that property to a theater, but could be anything appropriate in that zone. It doesn’t change any structure or restrictions, it’s just the aggregation of square footage,” said Nate Brown, Keizer community development director.

Brown added that one building on the site allows for more parking and other efficiencies.

The council heard from only two residents during public testimony, Joel and Cindy Taylor, who opposed the changes. The couple said they recently purchased a home in the vicinity without any knowledge of the possibility of commercial development.

“I have major concerns with traffic and property value also the drop off with Whiteaker (Middle School),” said Joel. He added that the master plan was approved in 2010 and the city has grown since then, and more traffic and congestion is likely on the way. “Now there’s going to be a Waremart down the street.”

“There is no compensation for the growth. What is going to happen later in the parking lot (after the theater is closed) behind my home? I wish I had known this when I bought it,” said Cindy.

Brown noted that development as a theater could be preferable to other types of businesses.

“The beauty of the theater is that their peak time is completely off normal peak (traffic) periods. That commercial area has been established since the city was formed. The reality is that some development will happen,” Brown said.

Issues regarding traffic, specifically as it relates to Whiteaker, were also planned for in the original master plan process.

The Taylors also took issue with the size of a wall meant to alleviate the impact of lights and noise on the neighboring homes. A seven-foot wall is planned, but many of the nearby houses are two-story.

City Manager Chris Eppley said the intent was only to shield neighbors from light and noise caused by vehicle traffic.

“Our intent is not to have any light source (meaning the bulbs themselves) visible from the homes,” Brown said.

Current plans for the theater include having marquee lights face Keizer Station Boulevard, Eppley said.