Property owners in Roseburg have two new options for renting apartments following Roseburg City Council’s meeting Monday.

The city adopted land use code changes that will allow developers to create dormitory style apartment units within the downtown district. The code changes also allow homeowners to create accessory dwelling units on their properties.

Previously, property owners had to obtain a conditional use permit to rent those types of rooms.

The changes will align city code with state legislation that took effect last summer requiring cities make such housing options available.

In February, the Roseburg Planning Commission sent the land use changes to City Council for discussion. Magnus Johannesson, who owns two vacant buildings in downtown Roseburg, had approached city planners and was interested in renovating his buildings to create dormitory style apartments.

The buildings, which were originally used as hotels but have been vacant for decades, together contain more than 40 rooms without kitchens or bathrooms — there are shared kitchens and bathrooms in the buildings.

Johannesson said it was cost prohibitive to install bathrooms and kitchens in the individual rooms, which motivated the city to review options that would allow Johannesson to put the buildings to use.

In addition to the land use code changes, City Council appointed John Kennedy to the Roseburg Planning Commission. City Councilors also authorized the city staff to apply for a state grant to improve Beulah Park and approved funding and preliminary designs for local roadway improvements.

City Council President Tom Ryan said he could not vote to appoint Kennedy — who previously served on the parks commission and has been a developer in Douglas and Jackson counties for 15 years — because Kennedy is in a relationship with City Councilor Alison Eggers. Eggers recused herself from the appointment process as a result.

“Kennedy is eminently qualified for this,” Ryan said. “Having said that, I cannot and will not vote for Mr. Kennedy because he’s in a relationship with one of the city councilors. I know it’s perfectly legal, and if the council overrules me that’s fine.”

City councilors Linda Fisher-Fowler, Brian Prawitz, Andrea Zielinski and Ashley Hicks, as well as Mayor Larry Rich, acknowledged the relationship between Kennedy and Eggers, but concluded the couple has nothing to gain personally from their city positions.

City Council decided to appoint Kennedy instead of Patrick Lewandowski to the commission.

Later in the meeting, Public Works Director Nikki Messenger sought City Council approval to apply for an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Local Government Grant, which would be used to renovate Beulah Park.

The park used to have playground equipment, but it exceeded its lifespan and was removed.

The city’s application for the grant was previously denied. The city has revised its grant application and plans to reapply for the $150,000 grant. The city would also use $100,000 from the park improvement fund and $15,000 from the sidewalkfund to complete the project, which includes new playground equipment, new trees and sidewalks.

Additionally, the city authorized a task order for pavement rehabilitation on sections of Stewart Parkway, Garden Valley Boulevard and other main pedestrian areas with Murraysmith, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $188,737.

The city also authorized a preliminary design contract with Century West Engineering for roadway improvements on Douglas Avenue for an amount not to exceed $98,081. The improvements would better facilitate traffic and make the street more accessible to bikers and pedestrians, Messenger said.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

(1) comment

pwchoices

The council can throw as much money at downtown as they want. It's wasted. My family drove down Jackson Street the other afternoon. There were homeless campers in several business entrances just hanging out. There was people laying on the sidewalks, drunk, drugged, dead? There is a homeless man that has made the bench outside of city offices near the courthouse his new home. He frequently paces back and forth on the sidewalk. My family avoids downtown...it SUCKS!

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