Change in Keizer Station plans seen as wheel-greaser

Given how slow Keizer Station has been to fully develop, it would be easy to think that it is mostly complete at this point. However, there are plans in place for the approximately 16 acres of land south of Chemawa Road Northeast and west of Interstate 5 – roughly all the green spaces between the paved roads and the water tower. 

One of the reasons the area has been even slower to develop is that any development requires agreement between its owners, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. 

At a Keizer Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, July 10, the first hints that something might be in the works were revealed. The tribes, represented by Alan Roodhouse, approached the city to ask for an amendment to the master plan that expands the type of businesses permitted in the “jug handle” drivers use to travel under Chemawa Road and then head east when exiting Keizer Station. 

The changes, which were approved in a 5-1 vote, allow auto and home supply stores and some automotive services (other than repair) to be developed in the area. The tribes appear to be eyeing a deal for a tire store or quick lube business. The space is already zoned to include general merchandise stores, like convenience stores, and gas stations. 

While the change might not seem grandiose, said Keizer Development Director Nate Brown, “the question before you is whether broadening the intent of the Keizer Station Plan to include more auto-oriented uses in Area D is appropriate.” Area D is the designation for the space owned by the tribes. 

Commissioner Garry Whalen expressed concerns about traffic, saying, “Traffic can get backed up there for quite a distance and it’s going to increase, especially with In-N-Out coming.”

Brown said any business expected to dramatically affect traffic in the space would require an additional analysis. Whalen supported the change in the end.  

Most questions revolved around specifics that could not be answered without a definite proposal on the table, but Brown said leaning into the request could pay out in other ways. 

“This is the first time we’ve had a development pathway presented to us [by the tribes]. If it takes giving them a little more flexibility here, then perhaps we’ll see more activity in Area D,” he said. 

The only commissioner to oppose the change was Mike DeBlasi, who said, “There are two tire stores, two car washes, and three auto parts stores on River Road. I feel like this would be undercutting businesses on our main road.”

Commissioner Jeffrey Watson said the potential to see additional development might outweigh the potential negatives of expanding the permitted uses, but DeBlasi countered that there were “a lot of ifs” in that line of thinking.