Day: April 20, 2010

Council again delays decision on building caps

Councilors again put off a decision Monday night that could soften retail building caps at Keizer Station. The Keizer City Council did vote to strengthen review requirements throughout Keizer Station along with an amendment shifting a transit station requirement to Area B of Keizer Station. But they put off the building caps issue, as residents in the Chemawa Road NE area – many still stinging from a 2008 decision that allows a big-box store of 135,000 square feet to locate at the southeast corner of Chemawa Road and Lockhaven Drive (Area C)  – passionately lobbied councilors not to allow an even bigger store in the area. The matter could be back in front of councilors as early as May 3. The issue at hand is a rather technical governmental process, but one neighbors fear could impact their neighborhoods. Caps regulate how much retail square footage is allowed in the four areas of Keizer Station. Currently, in Area C the limit is 135,000 square feet, which can be contained in a single building. The Council’s 2008 decision raised the cap from 65,000 square feet in total, and 10,000 square feet per building. The issue elicited at-times emotional testimony from neighbors, who founded the Keep Keizer Livable group. They backed former planning commissioner Martin Matiskainen’s ultimately-unsuccessful campaign against Councilor Brandon Smith in 2008. The latest proposal was to move the process to...

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Local unemployment back in double digits

It was fun while it lasted. The local unemployment rate rose into double digits again after dipping to 9.5 percent in February. The March seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 10.2 percent. It’s 0.3 percent lower than the unemployment rate in March 2009. An estimated 22,759 people were unemployed in Marion and Polk counties in a work force of 196,878 for the month. Overall, 531 less people were unemployed than one year ago. March’s job growth was “larger than is typical” for the Salem MSA between February and March, as about 600 jobs were added to the workforce, according to Patrick O’Connor of Worksource Oregon. However, there are 1,300 less nonfarm jobs in the area since March 2009. The Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Keizer. In key sectors: • Construction was flat for the month, and has lost 400 jobs in the past year. • Manufacturing added 100 jobs. • Leisure and hospitality employment rose by 200 jobs. • Retail trade was unchanged, but has lost 700 jobs in the past year. • In the public sector, local government dropped 200 jobs while state and federal added 100...

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NEWS ANALYSIS: Assumptions fly all around in home rule discussion

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes Next month, Marion County residents will be asked whether they want to change the way the county elects its leaders. Under the home rule charter proposal, the number of commissioners will grow from three to five. Instead of party-based elections with a primary and general election similar to a legislative or congressional race, the elections will become non-partisan. The proposal also calls for eliminating the county treasurer position. It’s a big deal in large part because of land use, an issue that has divided Oregonians for decades. To illustrate, Friends of Marion County have endorsed the measure, while the Salem Chamber of Commerce is stridently opposing it. The Web sites for Have a Voice Everyone – the pro-charter side – and the anti-charter Bigger Government? No Way! offer a plethora of arguments. A common thread on both sides is statements based on decisions a future county commission may or may not make. • Claim: A home rule charter would save the county $271,874. Status: Dubious. Savings are mostly based on future county commission decisions, which this group cannot guarantee. At Have A Voice Everyone, the Web site supporting the measure, the front page argues that adding two commissioners can actually save money. It says that, by eliminating the county treasurer position and three policy advisors currently on staff at the county commission, the...

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