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A tightly-restricted intergovernmental agreement between the city and Marion County to annex privately-owned land adjacent to Keizer Rapids Park has been approved by the Keizer City Council and Marion County Commission.

The move would annex privately owned land adjacent to Keizer Rapids Park, along with a small portion of the park. The primary purpose of doing so is to allow urban renewal funds to purchase the privately owned land, currently owned by Ella Buchholz, with the possibility of adding it to Keizer Rapids Park.

In order to annex the land a change must be made in the county’s comprehensive plan, namely that currently annexation is not allowed outside of the urban growth boundary (UGB). The amendment would allow the city to do so as long as annexed land outside the UGB maintains a rural purpose.

This is the chief caveat in the agreement between the city and county. The land is currently zoned for exclusive farm use, and the agreement specifies the zoning will not change. It could be used for park purposes, the agreement states, with a conditional use permit.

At a county commission meeting Wednesday, Aug. 18, Brandon Reich, staffer for the Marion County Planning Commission, said that throughout the process, the land would be zoned rural until coming within the UGB.

Nate Brown, community development director for Keizer, said that the timing of the issue was driven by the decision of the owner of the land between the city and the park to put it up for sale.  He noted that the law would require the parcel to be either in the UGB or the city.

Ken La Duke, a Keizer resident whose family abuts the parcel, expressed concerns about recent problems in the park involving noise and unleashed dogs. He suggested postponing a vote on the proposed amendment until the issues could be resolved.

Another Keizer resident, Will Lathrop, asked whether the change would bar residential construction on the parcel.

Commissioners said that their concerns could be addressed but that their questions could not be immediately answered.

Brown estimated that the annexation process, which he said will start at once, would take at least three months, and that the UGB process would take at least two years.