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Thousands of lakefront structures are in danger at Lake of the Ozarks

Lakefront structures that encroach upon federal boundary face a possible ban, but Ameren Missouri hopes to reach a compromise with FERC.

August 31, 2011|by Linda Russell, KY3 News | lrussell@ky3.com

LAKE OZARK, Mo. -- There may be trouble for property owners along the shores of Lake of the Ozarks.  A federal agency says thousands of lakeside structures are overstepping a boundary line. 

Ameren Missouri operates the hydroelectric plant at Bagnell Dam, and also manages the shoreline of Lake of the Ozarks.  The lake is a federal project, however, and Ameren answers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.  New orders from FERC aren't sitting well with folks at the lake.

As Ameren Missouri seeks a new 40-year license to operate Bagnell Dam, the federal government has concerns about its shoreline management -- around 4,000 concerns.  That's the approximate number of structures overstepping the project boundary.

"There's a good number of folks out there that have no idea that they have a structure within our project boundary, and there's a good number that do," said Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri's shoreline manager.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants to ban any structures -- like homes, decks, gazebos or sidewalks -- along a thin strip of land at the lake's shoreline.

"I think, over time, there are even deeds that have been misrepresented, and folks perhaps built some things without surveys, perhaps even occasionally built some things without permits or didn't even know they needed a permit," said Green.

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A sidewalk at the water's edge at Blue Moon Marina is just one of the structures that may be at risk.

"I just recently heard about it," said Joe Manzer, co-owner of Blue Moon Marina.

Manzer is concerned about FERC's demands. 

"If FERC has their way, things like this won't be able to be installed any more at Lake of the Ozarks, and I think that's wrong," Manzer said.

Manzer is also one of the developers at Cross Creek Subdivision, where a lakeside board walk is also at risk. 

"I don't know how we would get to that dock or that dock," said Manzer.

More than 1,260 homes also encroach upon the boundary. 

"I think most of them are going to be two or three removed from the original owner or developer," said Green.

Ameren is asking for a compromise. 

"We're asking FERC to allow us to grandfather pre-existing structures, as well as modify the project boundary in certain locations," said Green.

If a compromise can't be reached, people like Manzer worry for the future of the area. 

"You have multiple marinas, resorts, condominiums, bars, restaurants, and homes -- everyone would be affected," Manzer said.

Ameren has filed a petition seeking reconsideration from FERC, and hopes the issue will be worked out in the next few months.  Manzer says he has contacted all his representatives and voiced his disagreement with the agency's order, and he hopes others will do the same.

You can read more about the Shoreline Management Plan for Lake of the Ozarks, on the Ameren Missouri website.

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