SB planning commission proposes intergovernmental plan with counties to address burden of suburban sprawl

The Village of Sunrise Beach may soon be knocking on the doors of the commissioners' offices in Camden and Morgan counties to seek to work together on a better plan to provide services if the Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees takes up the recommendation from its planning commission.

During its Jan. 8 meeting, the municipal planning commission voted to recommend that the city board of trustees approach the county leaders about developing an intergovernmental capital improvement plan to help the village make annexations more feasible.

Sunrise Beach planner Roger Corbin pushed the idea as a way to provide better street maintenance for area residents and eventually relieve straining county budgets.

According to the village's 2009 master plan, both Camden and Morgan counties — Sunrise Beach has connections to both — had about 75 percent of their population living outside incorporated areas in 2005, compared to an average of 34 percent statewide.

It is no secret that residential growth in the lake area has been largely outside of municipalities.

Census tracts in the 2010 U.S. Census covering most of the Westside area showed only around 11 percent of the population living within the small towns of Laurie, Sunrise Beach or Gravois Mills. The population density, however, was more comparable to suburban areas around the state rather than a regular rural area.

The two Census tracts that largely covered the Sunrise Beach zip code had a density of 88.4 to 199.9 people per square mile. Southern Morgan County — bounded on the north by Big Buffalo, McCasland, Route TT and Golden Beach roads — and western Camden County tracts had a population density range of 30 to 88.3.

In contrast, central and northern Morgan County and southeastern Camden County tracts, which lie away from the lake area, had a density of just 10 to 29.9 people per square mile.

The Horseshoe Bend area had an even more significant density. Its range of 200 to 999.9 people per square mile matched the urban density of the cities of Camdenton, Osage Beach and Versailles.

The Sunrise Beach master plan, reiterated by Corbin, states that this residential sprawl outside of area cities suggests the counties are carrying a heavier burden than normally required of this type of governmental service, and the burden could be reduced with more orderly annexation by the cities, especially those in Camden County where the population count is significantly higher.

Currently county street maintenance consists largely of patching bad spots as they can afford to do so. The county has been unable to take on much in the way of actual road improvements beyond that due to budget constraints. There has also been a moratorium in Camden County on accepting new public streets just to maintain the current level of service on existing roads.

The Sunrise Beach Planning Commission is proposing that the counties concentrate public road improvements in areas identified for annexation by cities, in this case Sunrise Beach. Once a street was brought up to standard, a city could more easily annex the area and provide street maintenance.

The plan might mean a greater short term expense by the counties, but they would receive long term gain by relieving its budget through the reduction of the amount of roadway it has to service, Corbin said.

The annexations could also help relieve the sheriff's departments by the city police departments taking on more territory.

Local cities would also have to balance the annexations and subsequent increase in services with increased revenue. For Sunrise Beach, which does not collect property tax, that has meant first promoting commercial growth for increased sales tax revenue.

"We should take the lead in this," Corbin said. "We've been identified as a high growth area, and we need to sit down with the county and say these are the areas we're interested in."

The intergovernmental capital improvement plan came up as the planning commission discussed the village's annexation plans and the need to develop more specific annexation agreements.

The proposed annexation of parts of Ambrosia Ln., located off of Kula Bay Drive, was tabled last month after city attorney Greg Williams recommended trustees consider changing its standard agreement for voluntary annexations now that services beyond street maintenance and police service are offered.

The municipal drinking water system now serves the Highway 5 corridor area, and the first phase of construction for a wastewater treatment system is underway for the southern part of the Highway 5 corridor.

Williams advised narrowing some of the definitions in the agreement to include what municipal services can be expected as well as how and when those services will be provided.

At the meeting Wednesday, the planning commission voted to recommend amending the agreement to state that the municipality would get new properties in the city limits on its water plan in three years and on its sewer plan in five. Commissioners also advised the city survey any subdivision interested in annexation to see what services they were interested in, and if that included water and sewer, what their willingness would be to form or join a neighborhood improvement district to help fund the extension of those services to the subdivision.

The Ambrosia Ln. property owners, who have already officially petitioned for annexation and been through the voluntary annexation process, have expressed interest in utility service and have agreed to pay for the extension. Ambrosia Ln. is a private road, so the village will not be extending street maintenance once the properties are annexed.

Since getting the utility services underway, the Village of Sunrise Beach has been approached by some subdivisions nearby about annexation due to tightening enforcement and regulation on water and sewer systems by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The village is considering neighborhood improvement districts to finance the extension of its system to these areas in part so that current users on the system don't have to fund the extra costs.

The initial sewer system that is now under construction in Sunrise Beach was designed with excess capacity of approximately 15,000-20,000 gallons per day in order to allow for some growth. The water system also has the capability of meeting greater demand.