Residents near the Isla Del Sol development are claiming victory after a unanimous decision by the Miller County Commission, which turned down a request for a Community Improvement District to fund a causeway.
The vote on the CID came Wednesday morning during a meeting at the Miller County Courthouse. All three county commissioners took the opportunity to address their concerns about the proposed CID and causeway before meeting briefly with their legal counsel and taking a final vote. The commission had tabled the issue earlier this month after more than 100 people show up at a public hearing, many of who opposed the CID and causeway project.
The commission's decision has drawn widespread support from residents and organizations concerned about the impact of the proposed causeway on the neighborhood, a concerns over the destruction of a unique fishing habitat.
Known as Isla Del Sol, the condominium development is not accessible by land. It is served by a ferry service that runs to and from the shoreline at the end of Lake Road W-12 on the north shore of the lake in Miller County. Prior to being taken over by Rockwood Bank, of Eureka, the development was known as Atlantis Island. Prior to being bulldozed for development, it was called Hawaiian Island for years by locals.
For Ted and Mary Pope, who live and run a business at the end of Lake Road W-12, the commission's decision was a relief.
"Their intention 'to do the right thing' for Miller County was certainly evidenced by the unanimous decision. We are extremely proud of how well our elected officials performed, especially under the intense political pressure and close scrutiny of concerned constituents," Mary said. "They rose to the occasion by conducting due diligent tasks above and beyond the call of duty, and definitely showed their true colors. History was made today, in more ways than one."
Past attempts to build a bridge between the shoreline and the island have failed. Miller County, along with resource agencies, such as the Missouri Department of Conservation and Ameren Missouri raised objections.
For the county, the concerns have been financial. Miller County officials have opposed a bridge, saying they couldn't afford to maintain it, and Ameren Missouri had taken the position that without a governmental agency to back up the bridge plan, the utility wouldn't approve permits.
Earlier this year the bank proposed construction of the causeway hoping to use the CID financing. The proposed causeway, constructed of rip rap, would have linked the shoreline to the island, a distance of about 300-feet using
A CID is a financing mechanism that would give the bank the ability to form a district, impose a tax assessed against the residents with the boundaries of the district and use the funds to pay for construction and maintenance of the causeway.
Page 2 of 2 - Commissioner Brian Duncan said the bottom line was he felt it was his job to protect the property ownership rights of all Miller County property owners. In this case, he felt the bank/developers had not been as diligent as they could have been working with several neighbors who would have been effected by the project.
We took a very hard look at it and there were things that were left undone and never settled," he said."We feel we had legitimate reason to turn the CID down."
Although the bank/developers had worked out an agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation over the fish habitat, Ameren Missouri had not signed off on the project. Ameren was waiting for the county to make a decision.
The residents worried that if the condo project continues to develop to 240 units as originally planned, traffic on W-12 will become overwhelming.
At present, there are three buildings on Isla Del Sol with 30 units each. According to Rockwood Bank representatives, 41 of the 90 condo units have owners. Condo owners and renters go to and from the island by ferry boat.
The ferry, according to bank representatives is not economically feasible and costs approximately $300,000 to run a year.
In order to fund the causeway, Rockwood Bank wanted to establish the CID. The CID would become a taxing entity. The bank would have funded the causeway construction with a promissory note.
The Isla Del Sol Homeowners Association would then have paid the bank reimbursements over time by collecting additional property tax from condo residents.