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Lake of the Ozarks Residents, Ameren Fight Federal Order

Posted: Oct 26, 2011 3:56 PM by Garrett Bergquist
Updated: Oct 26, 2011 7:03 PM

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LAKE OZARK - A Lake Ozark realtor said Wednesday many of the town's residents think a federal agency's guidelines about where property can and can't be built is unclear.

Ozark Realty owner Dennis Newberry said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) met with Ameren Missouri and other constituencies to put together a shoreline management plan for the lake, but some think the agency needs to clarify how the plan will affect houses and other property build below an elevation of 662 feet above sea level.

"Ameren feels, and many citizens alike, feel the plan doesn't adequately address the nonconforming use structures," Newberry said.

Newberry said nonconforming use structures are anything that is built within a prohibited zone. Such structures may have been built before a boundary was put in place, or may have only part of the structure inside the boundary.

FERC ordered Ameren in July to clear property out of sections of shoreline along the Lake of the Ozarks because it did not conform to FERC's regulations regarding the Bagnell Dam, which Ameren operates. This includes more than 1,200 structures built below 662 feet above sea level. FERC's order said, "AmerenUE should be required to develop a plan and schedule to inspect and identify all lands within the project boundary...In the majority of cases, the existing non-conforming structure/encroachment should be removed in a timely manner and the site restored to pre-existing conditions." A statement released Wednesday said FERC relies on its licensees, or the groups that operate power plants, to make sure land use is consistent with the public interest. FERC said it is the licensees' responsibility to work with members of the public to resolve issues involving building structures on their land.

Ameren spokesman Jeff Green said the company appealed FERC's ruling, saying it would like to change boundaries and grandfather structures in. He said the company is waiting until the agency issues a final ruling, which hasn't happened yet.

Last Thursday, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation in both houses of Congress to prevent FERC from forcing Ameren to take over the properties. Hartzler's office said Missouri's entire congressional delegation supports the bills, and a number of representatives from other states have signed on as well. The bills are now in committee.

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