M. Caillier, J. Egli, B. Smith

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A senior housing developer will get some $13,680 in parks systems development charges refunded after a Keizer City Council vote Monday night.

The 4-2 decision was somewhat of a reversal from the call the same body made in September 2011 – a 3-3 vote that failed to deliver the disputed funds to developer Jeff Hawkins.

Councilors Mark Caillier and Joe Egli were among the yes votes; they voted no the first time. Councilor Brandon Smith, who voted in support the first time, decided to vote no this time around.

As an example, Smith said he wouldn’t be entitled to a refund on a speeding ticket he received on a street if the city council subsequently chose to raise the speed limit.

“My perspective is you’re subject to the rules at the time,” Smith said. “I don’t know any other situation… where we refunded money after the fact.”

Hawkins paid some $115,000 in parks SDCs when Emerald Pointe Retirement Community was under construction. All developments, be they single-family homes or a large facility, pay fees for the anticipated impact they will have on everything from parks to sewers and streets. Prior to revisions in 2010 the city had rates for single family and multi-family developments. Keizer didn’t have a senior housing rate at the time but many other communities did.

Hawkins argued the kind of senior housing units he built would have a lower population density – an average of one – versus traditional apartments, which were between two and three per unit.

He said at the time that lower density meant less impact to the parks system, which to him meant he should pay less than the multi-family rate of $800 per unit at the time. He also contended seniors use parks less than the general public. Hawkins was assessed $115,200 in parks systems development charges for 144 units in the development.

Caillier felt city staff had made a commitment to Hawkins to grant at least a partial refund should the city council choose to reconsider its SDC rate. City Manager Chris Eppley had pledged to bring the matter before council and make a positive recommendation, although Eppley noted during the meeting that it’s ultimately the council’s decision to make.

“To me that’s a commitment,” Caillier said.

Egli said Hawkins had identified an inequity in the SDC system.

“We never promised to give him the lower rate but because of him … we fixed it,” Egli said.

Hawkins had sought a much larger refund: Some $64,143. He asked for the larger figure because the new senior housing fee is 56 percent less than the new multi-family fee. The vote was ultimately whether the difference between the new senior housing fee – $705 per unit – and the $800 Hawkins paid should be refunded.