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City drafts plan to promote commercial development along Southeast Pine Street

The City of Roseburg has drafted a plan that would change city zoning codes to promote development between Southeast Pine Street and the riverfront.

The plan, known as the Pine Street Overlay, has received both support and opposition from residents and potential developers.

The city held a community open house for more than 20 people to discuss the plan Wednesday night at city hall. Several audience members questioned whether the plans, which don’t contain new city construction projects, will incentivize current or future property owners enough to develop.

The Overlay has its southern boundary at Southeast Douglas Avenue and its northern boundary at Deer Creek. It’s the only area of town along the riverfront that is zoned for commercial development. That’s why the city saw it as an area to promote development.

With buildings on the national historic registry, railroad property and the river nearby, the area has long been subject to an unusual number of zoning regulations that have prevented development, according to city officials.

The city has been working with an urban planning company and an engineering company for over a year to develop a plan that would attract new businesses, create a community gathering place and maintain the area’s historic buildings, according to Community Development Director Stuart Cowie.

The plan changes zoning codes to make it easier for property owners and developers to achieve those goals, according to city planning officials.

Property owners who don’t choose to develop will be unaffected by the changes, Cowie said.

John Lazur, an associate planner with the Roseburg Community Development Department, told the audience of residents, developers and city councilors what his department saw as the central questions of the project.

“How do we make this area more attractive to developers? How do we remove those hurdles that are an issue with future development,” Lazur said.

No public funds will be used on the project, because development will be left to existing or future property owners. The plans create the regulatory framework that property owners and future developers will have to abide by.

The city received grant funding from the Department of Land Conservation and Development to contract with Portland-based urban planning company Urbsworks for the project.

Components of the plan would require property owners to develop in a way that slows car, foot and bicycle traffic along Pine Street, which is zoned as a multi-use path. The purpose would be to promote walkability and commercial activity.

“While we’re not trying to create a downtown here, it’s important that it is kind of a sub area of the very distinctive character that could be part of the walkability of downtown,” said Marcy McInelly of Urbsworks.

One open house audience member voiced her concern about how future developments in the area would raise property values and in turn raise property taxes. Bonnie Ogle said her son, who has multiple sclerosis and doesn’t work, owns property in the Overlay zone and already has trouble affording property taxes.

“How much in taxes are going to be added on to him?” Ogle asked Cowie.

Cowie said the implementation of the Overlay zoning changes won’t affect property taxes immediately, but he acknowledged that if property owners choose to develop around Ogle’s son’s property, his property taxes would increase as a result of greater property value.

The Community Development Department aims to adopt a draft of the plans and submit it to city council for approval by March 2019.

The plans are available to the public on the city’s website.

Local dentist donates a day for veterans dental care

Local veterans had an extra reason to smile Wednesday, thanks to the brainchild of a Roseburg dentist.

Dr. Alanson Randol created Freedom Smiles, a day dedicated to providing free dental services for veterans at his Roseburg office.

The offer was good for both active and retired military veterans.

Randol said he found many veterans going without dental service.

“We’ve found there was a need because of the patients that fall through the cracks,” Randol said. “Plus this group does a lot for us as Americans and I think it’s important to give back, so it’s something that we can do putting our skills to use helping them out.”

The dentists at the office took care of fillings, extractions, cleanings and other procedures that could be done in one sitting, and if it was more complicated, they scheduled another appointment at no cost to the veteran.

Dutch Bros. even set up a mobile coffee stand outside the office and gave free drinks to the veterans throughout the day.

The office had seven chairs going from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and they were filled most of the day. The office took appointments and also squeezed in walk-ins whenever they came through the door.

Navy veteran Bill Pike served from 1974 to 1977. He said he wouldn’t have been able to get dental care if not for the clinic.

“I can’t afford it and I’m not service-connected, so I would have had to fork out big bucks, which I don’t have, so this is great,” Pike said.

Bryan McCurry of Roseburg, served in the Navy from 2006-2014. Even though he didn’t make an appointment, McCurry was able to get in after a short wait.

“I just showed up in hopes they had something available and they got me in in less than half an hour,” McCurry said. “A lot of the veterans don’t have dental, so having someone provide service for free is awesome.”

Dr. Emily Gaunt, a dentist at Dr. Randol’s office, said the veterans were appreciative of the chance to get some dental work done, that many have had to put off because of the cost.

“Some said, ‘Well, I can’t afford that,’ but we tell them it’s free, and they’re very appreciative about it,” Gaunt said. “This is awesome, I’m really happy that Dr. Randol offered this. We had a lot of people signed up and used all seven chairs.”

The dentists served 24 veterans during the day.

“It’s actually amazing how much dentistry you can do when there’s not financing involved,” Randol said.

“When Dr. Randol brought it to the team, we were all really excited about it and got on board and started making it happen getting advertising out there,” said Dawn Douthitt, marketing director for Dr. Randol’s. “The doctor has a soft spot for veterans because they sacrifice so much, so he just wanted to find a way to give back to them.”

Randol said a lot of the veterans don’t know some of the benefits that are available to them, so his office made an effort to connect the veterans with those organizations that can help get some of the more complicated dental work taken care of.

Cold weather means more use of heaters and wood stoves - but also more fires

With colder weather in place, Roseburg Fire Marshal Monte Bryan reminds residents to use caution when using space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces to heat their homes.

During this time of year, portable space heaters are popular options as supplemental heat sources in many homes. Bryan said the trouble starts when plugged in space heaters don’t work properly, are used improperly or don’t have proper clearance.

“Most standard heaters draw about 1,500 watts, so they pull a lot of electricity,” he said. “And if the wiring isn’t adequate it can trip a breaker, or if they’re plugged into an extension cord or power strip, they can burn that up if there is more than one thing plugged into it.”

Nobody knows better than Patrick Guillen and his wife, Terrilu Guillen, after a cord to a heater arced and started a fire last week in a bedroom closet. They found out firsthand how important it is to have a fire extinguisher nearby.

The couple and their son were at home in west Roseburg the evening of Nov. 7 when they discovered a fire in a bedroom closet. Guillen said the cord of the heater arced and caught some clothing on fire in the closet.

They had three extinguishers that they never had to use in the 10 years they owned them. Guillen had regular training on fire equipment when he worked for Roseburg Forest Products in the past, so he knew what to do.

“They do hands-on training with a water hose and fire extinguisher and teach you how to put out a fire. It was super great training that I wished I’d never had to call on, but it worked out really good,” Guillen said. “That’s what put the fire down and out.”

Guillen said it was a good refresher on safety precautions and being prepared. He said they learned that when you unplug a heater, you should pull on the plug to remove it from the receptacle, and not the cord.

“Most people pull on the cord instead of the actual plug from the wall and that damages the cord, and that’s exactly what happened,” Guillen said.

It caused the cord to arc, he said, and started some clothes and other items on fire in the closet. The damage could have been much worse.

Everyone got out safely and the major damage was limited mainly to the bedroom where the fire started. There were also two fire alarms in the home and Guillen said both worked, but he’s planning to upgrade to the combination three-stage alarms that will detect carbon monoxide and smoke.

The heaters draw a large amount of electricity, and Bryan said it is important to remember the following several safety measures.

  • Always plug the portable electric space heater directly into a wall outlet.
  • Never use power strips, extension cords or multi-plug adapters.
  • Ensure that the heater is tested by a nationally recognized company and is in good working order.
  • Maintain a clearance of at least 18 inches around all portable heaters and don’t place any combustible items on top of them.
  • Unplug the heater when not in use.

“The bottom line is that it needs to be good, sound, well-working equipment and the space around the heater is really important as well,” Bryan said.

He said having a fire extinguisher properly maintained and in accessible areas can make all the difference in the critical moments between when you discover the fire and when the firefighters arrive on scene.

“Always have a working smoke detector in the house and an escape plan,” Bryan said.

He said if a home has a wood stove or fireplace, it’s also important to have the chimney cleaned each year and checked periodically by a professional to make sure there are no cracks in it.