An informational meeting to discuss a proposed Urban Growth Boundary swap became contentious at times when concerned citizens accused Roseburg city officials of being “adversarial” and trying to “take” the land.
City officials held an open house Tuesday in the Ford Community Room to address questions about a proposed swap of two areas of hillside land out of the boundary with the Charter Oaks area at the south end of Northwest Troost Street.
Community Development Director Stuart Cowie told the estimated 50 people in attendance the swap would provide an option for development that is needed for future growth.
“We always recognized that Troost and Charter Oaks has been an area that has been identified for future urban growth,” Cowie said.
In the slideshow presentation, Cowie pointed to a document from the 1980s that suggested the area had the potential.
The decades-long interest in the area and attempts to bring it into the city was repeatedly opposed as people said the city was trying to “take” their land.
“Future annexation will primarily occur if landowners voluntarily annex or requested services,” Cowie said.
The only land that will be annexed, with approval from Douglas County, would be Northwest Troost Street and only up to an undetermined point. Any annexation after that would be new developments or by choice from the homeowner and would have to be adjacent to the city limits.
The meeting addressed concerns from the previous meeting regarding the swap in November including taxation, annexation, streets and utilities.
In Oregon, property taxes are based on the maximum assessed values, not market rate values, and are limited to a 3% increase according to the Oregon Department of Revenue.
“In the last five years, most properties haven’t gone up the full 3%,” Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley said.
The muttering in the room increased with every slide and every question until Jim Baird, the general manager at Roseburg Urban Sanitary Authority, stood up to explain the options for sewers in the Urban Growth Boundary.
He said no one would be required to hook up to the city sewer system, it would be voluntary, but would provide an option for people whose sewers fail. If a septic tank failed and sewage got into the street, the Department of Environmental Quality could force the owner to get a new system which costs at least $20,000.
Hooking up to city sewer without major discounts that could come with developers would be less than $3,000. It won’t cost people living in the area currently anything unless they chose to hook up to the sewer lines.
Because of the slope of the land, the sanitary authority has issues on a regular basis with the neighboring Loma Vista area and wants to install one or two new pump stations. The ideal location for two new stations which could fix the issue and service all 490 potential houses and a potential elementary school in the Charter Oaks area are both within the swap area.
Cowie said the department looked at several areas for a potential swap, and the existing infrastructure, historical recognition for potential growth, buildable land and existing interest made Charter Oaks the first option.
The city will conduct several studies to ensure the swap is the best choice before submitting an application to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. If approved, the application will go before the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and Roseburg City Council for approval as well.
The Community Development Department is looking into several options to ensure there is enough housing for existing and future citizens in Roseburg, which includes the swap which will be fleshed out more once the Housing Needs Analysis and Buildable Lands Survey is finished. City officials expects to have the report in the fall. It will hold another public meeting to discuss the survey on May 21 at an undetermined location.
One woman said she felt like she was being “steamrolled” into the city since it had been trying to annex the area since 1964.
Colley said that would be a very slow steamroller.