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Saint James

St. JamesLocated along the North Carolina coast near Wilmington, Southport, and Myrtle Beach, the town of St. James offers homes, golf courses, salt marshes and landscapes of pines as well as magnificent hardwoods and panoramic views of its Marina and the Intracoastal Waterway. The town is a gated community incorporated under the laws of North Carolina. It supports a town council, property owners association (POA), fire department and emergency medical service, as well as a developer operating within and adjacent to the town limits.

St. James currently contains about 2,200 acres but is expected to grow to 5,200 acres within the next several years. There are about 1,040 single-family homes and 220 multiunit residences. Three thousand lots have been platted and 2,830 have been sold, including the homes above. Additional lots will be platted as new areas are opened to development. Thus, substantial growth is anticipated in the coming years. The current assessed real estate value within the Town is $494 million with an additional $20 million for automobiles.

St. JamesThe land in and around St. James is typical Coastal Plain flat woods with natural and plantation pines, hardwoods, and Carolina Bays and Pocosins. A recent wildland/urban interface fire assessment noted the high fuel value of this vegetation and judged the community to be at a moderate to high risk of wildfire. The area is prone to wildfires, and one covering several hundred acres occurred in 1991 adjacent to the current development on land likely to be annexed in the future.

Partially mitigating the risk, St. James' Architectural Control Committee Guidelines generally require fire resistant materials. The community has good water resources, including county water, regularly spaced fire hydrants, lawn irrigation systems on residential lots and the three golf courses, and retention ponds that provide alternative water sources. Further, the St. James Fire Department has achieved a 5 rating and is located within five miles of all residences.

St. JamesFrom the initial idea to the planning and implementation stages, the town, POA, fire department, and the developer have worked cooperatively and diligently toward the achievement of the Firewise/USA status in St. James. Each entity has unique responsibilities to the community. Specifically, the town, comprised of five elected Councilors including the Mayor, is concerned with the health and safety of its citizens and representing their interests to federal, state, and local officials. It pays the fire department for its services, appoints a Director and Deputy Director for Emergency Management, and appoints a Public Information Officer.

A five-member board, three appointed by the developer and two elected by the property owners, governs the St. James POA. The POA maintains roads and common areas, operates the beach club, provides security and traffic control, appoints the Architectural Control Committee and administers St. James Plantation.

St. JamesThe St. James Fire Department (SJFD) owns and operates the firehouse and related equipment. It receives revenue from the town and fire fees from the rural fire district that it serves. The SJFD provides fire protection and emergency medical services through its first responders.

The developer owns most of the developed, unoccupied land in St. James and also owns the undeveloped land within the community. Several thousand acres immediately adjacent to the town are currently in various stages of planning and development by the developer and have the potential for becoming part of the town in the future.

St. JamesFollowing the wildfire assessment of the community, the Town turned to the North Carolina Division of Forestry for assistance in becoming a Firewise Community. A Firewise Task Force was appointed to develop a mitigation plan, organize a Firewise Information Day, and make application to Firewise Communities/USA.

St. James' mitigation plan has three major objectives: (1) raise the level of awareness to potential dangers and educate the community on actions that can be taken to mitigate those dangers; (2) incorporate into its existing emergency management plan those actions that the governing organizations can take to lessen the risk of injury and damage should a wildfire threaten; and (3) improve the infrastructure for more efficient response should a fire emergency arise.

For more information about St. James, visit http://www.stjamespoa.org or http://www.stjamesplantation.com/.