Carroll County development, reached only by way of Missouri, is seeking fire and emergency services pact

Monday, March 19, 2007

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Carroll County is looking at a possible intergovernmental agreement to provide fire protection and other services to a new housing development that is technically in Arkansas but accessed through Missouri.

Oaks Landing is a 274-acre development across from Holiday Island on Table Rock Lake. The development is technically located in Carroll County but is accessed by a county road in Eagle Rock, Mo.

The project has 45 lots ranging in size from three to 10 acres. Several three-acre lots are on the waterfront, and other five-acre lots have lake access.

There is one large, 69-acre piece. Minimum square footage for dwellings is 1,400 square feet.

Each lot owner will have to drill a private well. There is no community water system.

A meeting was held March 8 between Oaks Landing employees Brian Patten and Will Harris and Carroll County Judge Richard Williams, Sheriff Bob Grudek, Holiday Island Fire Chief Jack Deaton, Eagle Rock Fire Chief Ron Creek and other interested parties. Discussion centered on who will provide fire protection, law enforcement, ambulance service and other services to the fledgling community.

About half the lots are currently sold, said Harris, and he knows of two families who are talking to builders now.

In response to a question about road maintenance, he said the property owners would pay an assessment to a homeowners' association to maintain the roads in the development.

Although the property is located in Carroll County, it is not currently included in any fire department's district boundaries.

Deaton noted the entrance to the community, through a Missouri county road in Eagle Rock, is 15 miles from his nearest Holiday Island Rural Fire Department station. Creek said it is seven miles from the nearest Eagle Rock station.

Distance is important, not only for getting to an emergency scene quickly, but for the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating, both fire chiefs said. The lower the rating, the cheaper the home insurance, in some cases by several hundred dollars. Currently Eagle Rock's rating is an eight, and they hope to bring it down to a seven this year.

Oaks Landing itself would be a 10 because there is no water system, no fire hydrants, no fire station within five miles and no equipment. Harris said the developer might consider drilling a well for fire protection. Other measures were also suggested to lower the ISO rating.

Another issue is how 911 addressing would work and how calls would be dispatched to Eagle Rock with phone service in Arkansas. Eagle Rock is looking at getting enhanced 911 this fall.

What to do about school attendance was also raised.

Creek and Eagle Rock Fire District Board President Cliff Mitchell, along with Grudek, told Judge Williams they would be open to an intergovernmental agreement for Eagle Rock and Barry County to provide services if it is legal to do so.

The agreement would likely include some transfer of property tax monies and the ambulance district millage, Williams noted.

He said until an agreement can be worked out, Carroll County has the responsibility to provide services.

He said he would meet with the county attorney, and another meeting will be set up with all agencies involved and their attorneys to see what kind of agreement can be forged.

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