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By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A backer of two annexation measures on the ballots currently in voters’ hands has withdrawn their support.

The board of directors for Vineyards Phase II Homeowners Association sent a letter to the Keizertimes rescinding support for measures that would allow Keizer Fire District take over emergency services for the Clear Lake neighborhood. If approved the measures would remove about 1,000 homes from Marion County Fire District No. 1.

“After a better understanding of the issue we are formally withdrawing our initial letter requesting annexation of the Keizer Fire District for the Clearlake area. We are completely satisfied with the service that Marion County is currently providing our community,” states the letter signed by Vineyards II board members David Voorhies and Clay Rushton.

Keizer Fire officials were planning to meet with the group.

No specific reasoning behind the decision was given and the letter is a reversal from the board’s stance a year ago.

In a letter to the Keizer Fire District in February 2011, Rushton and Voorhies, along with Sandy Gilstrap and Ruth Markham, said, “We strongly believe that [annexation] would benefit our neighborhood by providing more immediate service in the event of an emergency.”

With rescinding of their support, it leaves the measures without the support of either of homeowners associations in the Clear Lake area.

KFD and MCFD1 are currently at odds over who should provide services to the Clear Lake area. Property taxes collected on the homes in the area are at stake for both organizations.

“The battle with the Keizer Fire District and City of Keizer has put a black eye on all fire professionals … My appreciation to the staff at Clear Lake Station #6 for being an active part of the Clear Lake community. Your efforts are why both Vineyards 1 and Vineyards 2 Home Owner Associations support keeping MCFD#1 as their fire and emergency medical response provider,” said Randy Franke, president of the Marion County Fire Board.

Keizer Fire Board president Joe Van Meter said Keizer Fire District officials acted on the original letter from the Vineyards II Board requesting KFD look into possible annexation.

“Keizer Fire has been transparent in its process regarding what’s best for all of keizer in regard to emergency services,”  Van Meter said.