DSC_6985By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Citing a primitive foundation that has led to sagging support walls, the “cow pasture” owners claim the Pugh-Savage-Hall farmhouse isn’t worth saving, and vow to block any attempt to have it registered as a site of historical significance.

For those reasons, and others, the Herber family is urging city officials to proceed with rezoning the 7.5 acres on the west side of Verda Lane Northeast between Chemawa Road northeast and Dearborn Avenue Northeast. If the request is approved, as many as 112 apartments could be constructed on the site.

Wallace Lien, an attorney for the family, filed the request with city officials Monday, Aug. 1. Area residents wishing to view the documents can download them at the links below. Those wishing to comment on the proposal now have until Monday, Aug. 15, to respond in writing to the city. Correspondence can be sent to City Recorder Tracy Davis at davist@keizer.org or via mail at P.O. Box 21000, Keizer, OR 97307.

The property owners and their representatives will then have until the end of the month to rebut any comments submitted by the area residents. The city council will likely make a final decision in September.

Because the farmhouse, which is believed to have been constructed around 1860, is only identified as a “potential” historic site, the “farmhouse is just an old structure, and one not in salvageable condition.”

The significance of the home was investigated as a result of the roundabout going in at Chemawa Road Northeast and Verda Lane Northeast, once it was filed with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, it was labeled as “potentially significant” because of some unique architectural features and its history associated with the settling of the Keizer area. Lien’s request also says substantial renovations to the home have rendered it ineligible for historical status.

The request to proceed with rezoning states that “a careful and detail (sic) inspection of the Herber Farmhouse was conducted by Multi/Tech Engineering.” Multi/Tech Engineering is owned by Mark Grenz, the same developer representing the family during city council proceeding during the past two years.

The Multi/Tech report claims an uncut stone foundation is the source of problems that make the farmhouse ill-suited for restoration or removal to another site. Dry rot and termite damage are also extensive. The home is currently inhabited by the property caretakers.

Regardless of the condition of the house, the request further states that the family would not consent to any attempt to have the farmhouse registered as a historical site. Consideration was given to donating the house so that it could be moved elsewhere, but the structural problems make that unfeasible.

Other items of note include:

A proposal to attach design conditions to the final rezone approval ensuring that any construction would would substantially mimic the ones presented during the rezone process.

Regarding traffic, the report takes direct aim at those with concerns: “none of those folks have any creditentials in planning or traffic management,” and says that the traffic studies submitted are enough to assuage anxiety. “Where a layman’s opinion conflicts with that of several expert qualified engineers, a reasonable decision maker will in every case follow the opinion of the expert and not the layman,” it states.

Regarding school impacts, the request claims that any new development will have “little impact” on the local schools. It finishes with, “The lack of capacity would still exist even under the existing conditions, so that issue is not relevant to the development. There is no question that the school district would not turn away a high school kid living in this development when they went to enroll.”

Citing the little movement during the past two years, the request states that desires to turn the property into a park lack action to match the conviction.

Engineering Report Rezone request