Light rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. High 54F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%..

Cloudy with showers. Low 42F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

Take a drive along Troost Street, near where it intersects with Charter Oaks Drive, and it’s easy to see why people who live in the area consider it a treasure.

The narrow road meanders near rolling hills of grass and cow pastures. Sightings of wild turkeys, deer and even a reported bald eagle are common. Homes in the area boast ornate family name signs and American flags out front, boats and RVs on the side, and playground sets in the backyard. It’s quiet and serene.

“This is a desirable area and it’s a great place to live,” said T.J. Evans, whose family has owned a home on Charter Oaks Drive for more than 50 years. “We all love it.”

But this idyllic community is facing potential change. Roseburg officials are proposing a land exchange that would open up more than 200 acres in the area to development, and likely result in several hundred new homes.

Supporters of the proposal say the swap and subsequent new homes are desperately needed to address an acute housing shortage in the region, which is stifling economic growth.

Homeowners in the area worry that the influx of so many homes will bring unwanted traffic and noise to the community, and ultimately destroy the lifestyle they covet. They also say an influx of homes — and cars — would be troublesome because there is only one road in and out of the area.

Supporters and opponents of the proposed land swap are expected to show up Monday evening when the city and county planning commissions hold a joint public hearing on the matter. The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in city hall at 900 SE Douglas Ave.

Roseburg officials have been eyeing the Charter Oaks area for development for decades — subdivisions were first platted in the area in 1947 — but all of those efforts were scuttled for a variety of reasons. In 1983, preliminary maps identified Charter Oaks inside an urban growth boundary, but the area was pulled prior to official adoption. In 1989 the city’s planning commission recommended 500 acres in the Charter Oaks area be added to the urban growth boundary, but that effort dissolved too.

In 1996 and again in 2008, there were efforts to expand the urban growth boundary, but neither took root.

This time is different, city officials say. This effort has momentum, generated in large part for the desire among community leaders to address the housing shortage, to get the proposal across the finish line.

Letters of supportThe proposed urban growth boundary swap calls for two undeveloped city properties — one 91.5 acres, the other 198.5 acres, both with severe slopes and significant development constraints — to be traded for flat residential county land in the Charter Oaks area that is considered more suitable for development.

Urban growth boundaries extend outside a city’s limits and provide plans for what a community could look like. The Charter Oaks property, which covers 220 acres generally bordered by Troost Street and the Umpqua River, must be moved into the urban growth boundary before the land can be annexed into Roseburg city limits and developed.

Roseburg’s urban growth boundary, which was created in 1983, currently cuts through the Charter Oaks neighborhood. A small number of Charter Oaks residents live within the boundary, but their property has yet to be annexed into the city.

City officials said the swap would help spur development and address a chronic housing shortage in the area — the vacancy rate, hovering around 2%, is the lowest in recent memory.

The Charter Oaks property is currently zoned for single-family homes. That would allow for nearly 700 units to be built, but city officials said it was much more realistic for 350-400 units to ultimately be built.

The city posted 24 letters in support of the land swap along with the agenda for Monday’s meeting, and one letter of concern. The letters of support were from agencies, employers, real estate professionals and area landowners, including the Roseburg school district, UCAN, CHI Mercy Health and Neal Company Real Estate.

The letters said the housing shortage hampers efforts to recruit and retain quality employees. The land swap would help ease that shortage, supporters said.

“Available housing is a key component for our businesses to retain and attract people to work in our community,” wrote Deborah Fromdahl, president and CEO of the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “The lack of affordable housing in Roseburg is a barrier for business growth and for people interested in relocating to our area … The proposed UGB swap provides the opportunity to add significant housing development, which provides substantial economic benefit to our region.”

Several property owners in the Charter Oaks area also support the proposal.

Vince Gaeta owns 37.5 acres off of Felt Street, which includes a historic air strip. The property is just adjacent to the proposed land swap area, but would benefit by an improved Troost Street and paved Felt Street, as well as access to city sewer lines, he said.

Gaeta said he is considering several development options for his property. But whatever he builds, his property, as well as the city at large, would benefit from a vibrant planned community of homes, shops and restaurants nearby, he said.

“Imagine a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods and a P.F. Chang’s right along the river there,” he said. “If it becomes an area that’s treated with reverence and becomes a master planned community, it could really be something. This is a tremendous opportunity for Roseburg to redefine itself going forward.”

Sane Orderly DevelopmentCity officials said they have not received any letters expressing opposition to the proposed land swap. But such opposition clearly exists.

About 75 people attended a recent public discussion of the proposed swap, and virtually every comment was in opposition to the plan.

Several people pointed out that Charter Oaks only has one road in and out — Northwest Troost Street — and the two-lane road is already crowded and dangerous. Putting hundreds of homes there without any concrete plans for additional roads would be dangerous, they said.

“With all due respect, our road can’t handle another 1,000 cars,” one woman said.

Putting more homes in the area without first adding roads “is just a disaster waiting to happen,” said another.

One of the most vocal opponents at the meeting was Evans, who said she grew up in the house the family owns on Charter Oaks Drive. The house has been in the family for some 50 years, and the city has been trying to bring the neighborhood into the urban growth boundary all that time she said.

“There’s always been push back from people in the area,” Evans said. “The majority of people here don’t want to be brought into the UGB for a variety of reasons.”

One of those reasons is the concern over added congestion on Troost Street, she said.

Evans said any homes built in the area will be expensive, and not the kind of affordable housing that supporters say is needed. There are better locations for such housing, she said.

“In my opinion they’re wanting this swap because developers are more anxious to build out here than in the Dixonville area or Diamond Lake Boulevard, because those areas aren’t as desirable,” she said.

Evans said she is not happy with the “fast and furious” way the city is pushing this land swap, without answers for basic questions like how roads will be developed and how the expansion might affect current homeowners.

Evans and other area residents who oppose the land swap have banded together under the name Sane Orderly Development, or SOD. The group had a meeting last Saturday at a home on Charter Oaks Drive to share thoughts and map out a strategy moving forward.

Evans said she will be at Monday’s hearing, along with scores of SOD members and other neighbors, to voice their disapproval of the proposed land swap.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-672-3321 x7204.

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WHAT: Joint public hearing of the Roseburg and Douglas County planning commissions regarding the proposed Urban Growth Boundary land swap.

WHERE: Roseburg City Hall, 900 SE Douglas Ave. The hearing will also be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page.

Community Development Staff: Research, planning and public participation process for the proposal takes place. Public comment and questions are accepted at three public meetings.

City & County Planning Commissions: Proposed land swap proposal goes before city and county commissions at a joint public hearing, scheduled for Monday. The commissions then make their recommendations and forward findings of fact document to their respective government bodies.

City Council/County Commission: Proposal goes before the city council and county commission at separate public hearings. Each votes to adopt, amend or deny the proposal. But both have to vote in favor of the proposed land swap for it to be approved.

An area identified for urban expansion for the last 40 years and longer.

1963 — School District obtains 17.5 acres of property for future school.

1977 — City purchases Oregon Water Corp. and converts it to a public utility.

1983 —Preliminary maps of urban growth boundary identify Charter Oaks inside the boundary, but the area was pulled prior to official adoption.

1989 — City Planning Commission recommends 500 acres in the Charter Oaks area be added to urban growth boundary. No final action is taken.

1994 — County/City Urban Growth Management Agreement (UGMA) is created and identifies Charter Oaks as an area for future urbanization.

1996 — 39 property owners request 219 acres of their property be added to the urban growth boundary. Request is withdrawn as the Planning Commission is concerned the boundary is to irregular.

2006 — An inventory of buildable lands Inventory is conducted and spurs an urban growth boundary expansion study.

2008 — The urban growth boundary expansion study is conducted, but is never finalized because the population growth did not justify the expansion under statute.

2020 — Roseburg City Council identifies pursuing an urban growth boundary swap as a goal for the city.

2023 — City hosts public meetings to discuss and get input on the proposed land swap.

2024 — The city begins the process of holding public meetings to discuss the proposed swap and get input from residents.

May 6, 2024 — A joint meeting of the city and county planning commissions is scheduled.

This is a choice area of real estate. If the swap goes through, it’s likely the homes built there will not be of the modest and affordable type. People want big, nice houses and more power to them. But the rest of us should not be expected to subsidize their lifestyle or to pad the pockets of the developers by giving them free roads and services. Make the developers pay for the improvements necessary to serve the new neighborhoods.

This is a choice area of real estate. If the swap goes through, it’s likely the homes built there will not be of the modest and affordable type. People want big, nice houses and more power to them. But the rest of us should not be expected to subsidize their lifestyle or to pad the pockets of the developers by giving them free roads and services. Make the developers pay for the improvements necessary to serve the new neighborhoods.

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