Land use matters are tricky.  When the City Council hears certain types of land use applications, we sit as judges and have to weigh all facts provided to us against a strict set of criteria and State statutes.  The state requirements the city and the council must follow are the result of decades of land use planning and litigation, preserving our farm and forest lands and planning the space for cities through the management of land inside our urban growth boundaries.

Perhaps our most important job in these types of issues is to ensure we work to be fair and impartial in our evaluation of land use proposals, striving to create an even playing field to weigh the proposal against all other development proposals within the city, and then to weigh those proposals against what is best for the entire city at present and into the future.  People who own property within the city have rights to do what they want with their land within established guidelines that meet state land use goals and adopted city comprehensive plans, zoning and development regulations.

That means we continue to face decisions on how our city will change and plan how that will happen. I understand that many Keizer residents don’t like the decision the city council made on the Herber family’s desire to develop their land.  I would love to engage in discussion about this topic, as I’m sure many of my fellow councilors would. However, we can’t discuss the issue just yet.  The vote on Monday was to direct staff to bring back the matter in ordinance form so that we can formally vote on the proposed zone changes that were requested of us. All discussion has been in the public setting of our council meetings to make sure everyone can read the same materials we do and hear the same discussion we hear. We need to be sure that all discussion continues to take place only in open meetings. So, until that vote has been taken, the city council simply can’t discuss the matter, not even among ourselves, or receive any information that hasn’t already been submitted to the formal record.  After the final vote has been taken, however, I and the other councilors will be free to discuss with Keizer citizens why we chose to vote the way each of us did.  I can only ask your patience for a little while longer and I promise, we will be willing and available to visit with you.

(Cathy Clark has been mayor of Keizer since January 2015.