Reporter’s Notebook is a new feature in the Keizertimes. Here our writers and editors will offer a glimpse behind the headlines to stories and issues bubbling just below the surface.

Attorneys opposing Keep Keizer Livable’s appeal of a possible Walmart store say the city has no obligation to require that adjoining mixed use buildings be completed before the discount grocer opens its doors.

The response was filed jointly by the City of Keizer and E-Village LLC, the development firm proposing the big box grocer along with medical offices and a mixed use retail and office building. The appeal was filed to the Land Use Board of Appeals in June by Keep Keizer Livable, a neighborhood group opposing the project.

The appeal, penned by attorney Ken Helm, states the city failed to guarantee required accompanying mixed use buildings would actually get built. When the Keizer City Council opted to change its development code to allow retail stores larger than 10,000 square feet it set size limits that would trigger requirements that the developer build mixed use structures around the large retail store.

In the responding brief, attorneys Zachary Dablow of Salem and Shannon Johnson of the city of Keizer assert merely starting construction satisfies Keizer’s code.

“Under Keizer’s interpretation of the code, once both components of the development have concurrently begun construction, they are deemed to have been constructed concurrently and satisfy (Keizer Development Code) regardless of the length of time to finish the construction,” the filing reads. The only obligation the city has is to make sure construction on the other buildings has begun before the larger store opens, they wrote.

The two attorneys say existing case law and statutes permit the city to interpret its own code.

You can see the whole legal filing below.

– Jason Cox