By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
A proposal for new apartments and a retirement community in Area C of Keizer Station was approved unanimously Tuesday night by the Keizer City Council.
Whether that means the project was approved quickly or not depends on the perspective.
The joint proposal by Mountain West Investment (with the 180 apartments) and Bonaventure Senior Living (the 154-unit retirement community) was discussed by councilors for the first time Tuesday. Following a public hearing and public testimony, councilors closed the record and voted 6-0 in favor, with Dennis Koho absent.
Representatives from the two companies first met with city officials in September and soon after started meeting with neighbors.
From the perspective of a large new project, getting approval at the first meeting less than four months after an initial pre-conference meeting is quick.
On the other hand, the approval marked a key point in a long-running issue. A previous proposal to do commercial building – a rumored 116,000 square foot Walmart was the lightning rod – a few years ago was vigorously protested, in particular by Kevin Hohnbaum and his Keep Keizer Livable group. The plans from 2011 were hotly debated. A revised plan from the fall of 2012 was eventually passed, but nothing ever came of that project.
The previous groundwork in terms of a master plan for the land was utilized as the starting point for the current proposal, with an amendment deleting the previous medical office and substituting in the retirement community.
The hearing for the proposal started at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, with approval coming shortly before 10.
Councilor Brandon Smith returned to the council after a two-year absence, having previously served from 2007 until 2013 and thus being familiar with the topic.
“I hope it eventually gets done,” Smith said of the proposal. “It’s interesting to me in my first meeting back it comes up again. I live off Area C. I’m excited about having something finally happen. I like the design; I voted to approve the previous one. I’m looking forward to good things coming to Keizer.”
New councilor Amy Ripp opined everyone involved had done their due diligence, while fellow newcomer Roland Herrera indicated a willingness to vote on the issue right away.
“I know you’re all sincere in your passion,” Herrera told the applicants.