New River Road plan adopted

The city will be changing the way it fosters development on River Road North with the adoption of the Keizer Revitalization Plan by the Keizer City Council. 

Councilors adopted the plan – with some changes – in a 6-0 vote Monday, Oct. 7. Councilor Elizabeth Smith was absent. 

The revitalization plan charts the course of changes the council hopes to see in the coming years and decades. It is the culmination of almost two years of study, planning and public engagement on issues of commercial development. 

As the council reviewed changes to the plan before adopting it, the topic that received the most discussion was when property owners would have to consolidate entrances. The city hopes to reduce the number of driveways on River Road for the purposes of improving traffic flow and increasing pedestrian safety. 

“Many [businesses] have multiple entrances that we are trying to control for a better safety and pedestrian experience,” added Community Development Director Nate Brown.

Consultants suggested triggering driveway consolidation when site changes increases off-street parking by more than 10 percent, when overall parking increases by more than 15 percent or when more than 20 percent of a site is repaved or resurfaced.

City staff weren’t ecstatic about the piecemeal nature of those standards and asked the council to strike the first two parameters and trigger the driveway merges only when more than 20 percent of a parking lot is reconstructed. 

“Reconstruction, or digging up portions, triggers other potential impacts and this would come along with those,” said Shane Witham, the city’s senior planner. 

Councilor Laura Reid asked if the effort to close driveways could dis-incentivize redevelopment for some property owners. 

Brown replied that any regulatory shift will deter some owners from making changes to their property, but that nothing will change without a mechanism to provoke it. 

“This is about where is it appropriate to set the thermostat for the how you want River Road to change. This is not an onerous level to expect change to occur,” Brown said. 

Mayor Cathy Clark suggested that it might be a matter of how the city promotes the changes to property owners when they consider redevelopment. 

“If they are redoing their parking lot, we approach them with a way to re-work parking with a city planner to maximize use of space and increase safety,” Clark said. She added that changes to a shared parking lot at Keizer Martial Arts at 4790 River Road North achieved both goals.

Other changes in the plan will be triggered when redevelopment is equal to or more than 25 percent the total value of the structure and the property. 

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