An upcoming public hearing will let city residents chime in on proposed changes to the development code pertaining to Keizer's commercial corridors, River Road North and Cherry Avenue Northeast.

Property owners along River Road North, Cherry Avenue Northeast and some adjacent residential properties recently received letters from the city notifying them that their properties might be affected with planned changes to the development code. 

Keizer Development Director Nate Brown understands that the wording of the letters might seem scary, but the wording is driven by the state. The actual changes being considered are intended to give owners more flexibility when developing or redeveloping their property. 

“We’re not restricting anyone, we’re changing some of the processes, we’re changing some of the designations to make it more sensible and give businesses more options to incentivize development,” Brown said.

If the plan is approved, commercial-zoned properties will be redesignated as mixed use to spur the inclusion of dwelling units when properties are redeveloped. A new overlay district, the River-Cherry Overlay District (RCOD), will: allow for expanded uses, implement updated aesthetic, landscaping and parking standards; and make some recommendations for public investments in the areas covered by the RCOD. The entirety of the proposed changes can be found on the city’s website, www.keizer.org, under the “Community Development” department and then “Current Projects” headings. The project name is the Keizer Revitalization Plan. 

City staff began the study with consultants from Portland-based OTAK in 2018. After speaking with property owners throughout the new district, the study looked at the current conditions of the Keizer’s commercial corridors, the market forces at work on a local level and how redevelopment might be used to help the city meet its housing needs. 

In addition to stakeholder input, listening sessions were held to pull in information from the public at large and showcase some of the ideas in the mix. 

The first public hearing on the proposed changes is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 14, during a meeting of the Keizer Planning Commission. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Keizer Civic Center. Comments can also be sent to [email protected] Given the scope of the proposed changes, there are likely to be additional chances to provide input at the planning commission before it makes a recommendation to the city council. 

As for the adjacent residential properties affected by the changes, Brown encouraged restraint before panicking. 

“The intent is not to affect residential (homeowners). There is a potential that adjacent properties will be included in the changes, but no one is going to lose property values, nobody’s property is being taken and no one is being forced to do something they don’t want to do. They will always be in control and always have the final decision on the property they own,” Brown said.