Growth benchmarks could come to fruition

Earlier this year, the Keizer Planning Commission recommended that the city absorb as much of its growth as possible within its existing boundaries. 

However, the commission also tasked city staff with bringing back benchmarks that could show the city is moving toward expanding its Urban Growth Boundary (UFB).

At the planning Commission meeting Wednesday, Nov 13, Community Development Director Nate Brown unveiled what the benchmarks will be: 

• Receive a Keizer-specific estimate of expected population growth and begin to address specific deficits that are revealed when that happens. 

• Assess regional growth needs that affect both Salem and Keizer, which are the only two cities in the state that share a common UGB. 

• Analyze the impacts of growth on infrastructure such as transportation and other systems. 

“The intent is that there are three different paths Keizer could choose: divorce, stay the same, or increase density while sending some growth outside of Keizer,” Brown said. Each will have different impacts on the city’s livability and core systems. 

• Monitor the effects of the addition of ADUs and new zoning directives from the Oregon Legislature that require multifamily dwelling be permitted in single-family residential areas. 

• Construct previously-identified capital improvements that would bolster the transportation systems. Doing so would help “unlock areas to the north of the city if the city goes forward with UGB expansion,” Brown said. “We already have transportation needs just to accommodate our existing growth.”

• Implement plans that reinforce the sense of community in Keizer. 

Commissioner Mark Callier said the benchmarks fit well with the commission’s desired goal of maintaining an eye on the horizon. 

“Thinking of them as milestones or benchmarks [rather than goals] provides context,” Caillier said. “This will come from a lot of directions at different times.”

Commissioner Frank Hostler said making sure that Keizer has a “sense of place” resonated deeply with him. 

“I’m a big fan of having that sense of place because it creates a sense of community,” Hostler said.