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“What became of pushing the UGB North of Clear Lake Rd?” – Keith S.

Dear Keith,

First it’s important to understand there is no set line for where Keizer’s urban growth boundary (UGB) may grow. Clear Lake Road is logical to some, but the analysis is quite complex.

A buildable lands inventory – assessing what land, including infill, is available for development in Keizer – is complete. Keizer is working with consulting firm Eco Northwest on two projects as part of its periodic review. One criteria of a periodic review is whether Keizer has a 20-year supply of buildable land for both homes and businesses.

A regional economic opportunities study, involving Keizer, Salem, Turner and Marion and Polk counties, assesses what land is available in the area for future commercial needs, with job growth a priority.

Sam Litke, Keizer’s senior planner, said Keizer “does have a need” but given the shared UGB with Salem, not that much. Salem has “quite a bit of industrial land” available, Litke said, and some areas – notably the Mill Creek Corporate Center – already have heavily-subsidized infrastructure in place, making it difficult for Keizer to compete for new business construction of that type.

Litke said Keizer officials are looking for a niche, and said the health care sector may be an answer. Salem Radiology is planning a building at Lockhaven Drive NE and McLeod Lane NE, and another multi-story medical facility has been proposed along Chemawa Road NE.

City staff will analyze how best to put infrastructure in place to attract business, be that through local improvement districts, system development charges and transportation bonds, or another way.

“We’re going to have to look a lot harder at what those revenue streams would have to be to make this vision a reality,” Litke said.

Also ongoing is a residential needs analysis. This looks at anticipated population growth and the land available to house them, be it in single-family houses or multi-family buildings. Litke expects significant progress on this front within six months or so. Both needs analyses would be subject to public hearings.

Only then can staff start looking at expanding the urban growth boundary. Oregon’s strict land use laws emphasize protecting good farmland, and the area north of Keizer is chock full of Class 1 and 2 soils, i.e. the best soils, with Class 6 being the worst.

“We don’t have any of the bad stuff around us,” Litke said.

Part of the discussion will be finding alternatives to taking good farmland out of agricultural production, i.e. infill and multi-family buildings. Litke said public input would take a significant role in determining where Keizer ultimately proposes expansion. Any UGB expansion must be approved by the state and could face legal action.

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