Having a cow? Nah, saving them

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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

It’s a proposal that is moooooving emotions.

A proposal has been submitted to the city for 120 new apartments.

Not everyone is thrilled about the plans – in no small part because of where the housing would go.

Sam Litke, senior planner with the City of Keizer, said the 120 units would go on 7.5 acres of land along Verda Lane NE.

“It would go from the four-way stop (at Verda and Chemawa Road NE) to Dearborn Avenue,” Litke said. “It would be on the west side of the road.”

In other words, the apartments would go in the area affectionally long referred to as the cow park, since a number of cows hang out in the area just east of Claggett Creek Park.

Litke acknowledges not everyone likes the idea.

“It’s been like it is for a long time,” he said. “A lot of people feel it helps define what Keizer is. But others understand it is in city limits.”

Debbie Crooks, who lives just down the road on the 5000 block of Verda Lane, is among those against the idea.

“We like the down home country Keizer environment, but that is getting lost with all the apartments I see,” Crooks said in an e-mail. “Soon the cows by Claggett Creek Park will be gone and more apartments will hide the view of the park. The city is putting in the roundabout because there is so much traffic. Well, more apartments will cause even more traffic. Do we really need more apartments in this area?”

Nate Brown, director of Community Development for Keizer, noted the current property owners want to change the zoning of the property to RM, or Medium Duty Residential. Other properties nearby have such zoning, including the church across Verda from the pasture and also the Rainbow Garden Mobile Village off Chemawa.

“It’s our understanding the mom and dad have passed away and the children don’t want to take care of the cows,” said Litke, who estimated there are between 12 and 20 cows.

A public hearing with the Keizer Hearings Officer was scheduled for Thursday, June 12. According to the notice for the hearing, the applicant is Mark Grenz with Multi-tech Engineering, while the property owner is Tyrene Deninger on behalf of the Herber Family LLC.

The property is currently zoned RS for Residential Single Family and has two single family homes in addition to two outbuildings.

On June 3, 22-year-old Maddy Kephart stood on the corner of Chemawa and Verda protesting the proposal, holding a sign reading “No More Apartments” on one side and “Save Keizer Cows” on the other. Kephart lives across Verda from the property and likes seeing the cows.

“They’re cute,” she said.

Litke said the Hearings Officer plans to have a report ready in time for the July 21 Keizer City Council meeting, though the timing is tentative. Council will hold a hearing when the subject is brought up. No timeline for building has been submitted to the city, according to Litke.

In addition to the building, some infrastructure work would have to be done for the project.

“Sewer and water is there, but they will need some street improvements,” Litke said. “There is sidewalk needed along Verda, plus they would need to fill the gap in the sidewalk on Dearborn.”

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