Keizer may pursue different kind of UGB expansion

While discussing projected goals for the Keizer Planning Commission in the coming year, Community Development Director Nate Brown  proposed investing staff time into the pursuit of an Urban Growth Boundary expansion dedicated to employment land. 

“We have a justified need – approved by state officials – for 49 acres of employment land. This is a different process from expansion for housing needs,” Brown said at the Jan. 8 meeting.  

Keizer officials previously looked at the need for employment lands in the city and decided to pursue employment space for: medical facilities, including research, development and support information technology/back office; educational services, including educational research and job training; professional services, including corporate headquarters; and sporting events.

“I think there is a tremendous upside to making this happen and provide local family-wage jobs and solve some of our financial issues,” said Commissioner Garry Whalen.

The primary goal of pursuing such an expansion would be to create living wage jobs within the city. Keizer’s current job-to-household ratio is .5-to-1. During a 2018 meeting on the city’s housing needs, consultant Glen Bolen said, “We looked at rates for growth in this scenario, and it tracks, but the population is aging and children have gone to other places. Keizer is not getting the recapture rate of other areas.”

The recapture rate refers to the number of young people growing up in Keizer who return as part of the workforce. 

The two most likely areas for the city to expand are along north River Road or north of Volcanoes Stadium, but part of the process would be to determine the best options. 

Commissioners supported pursuing the possibilities by unanimous consent. 

In other business: 

• Other goals considered by commissioners were: updating a master plan for the Keizer Station “jug handle” where developers broke ground recently; updating development codes regarding front-yard fencing; working out the kinks in new legislation exempting cell towers from the building permit process; examining efficiency measures, such as smaller lot sizes, to help pave the way for additional density; and clarifying development code language on accessory structures related to attached shops and garages.