LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. Lakefront property owners wait.
In what has been viewed by homeowners as a massive government intrusion up to their front decks, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently ordered the removal of all structures within AmerenUEs project boundary including condo buildings, homes, wastewater treatment facilities, decks, gazebos, anything deemed non-conforming.
The united uproar from lake area landowners and the business community swiftly made it to Washington D.C.
FERC, under intense political pressure, approved on Sept. 26 a request from AmerenUE for a rehearing of the Shoreline Management Plan to specifically address the project boundary issue. It could signal FERC may be persuaded to soften its position. There is optimism to that end among sources closest to issue at the Lake.
For now, lakefront property owners wait. The rehearing process has no specific timeline, although sources have indicated FERC will likely make a decision in the near term.
Ameren has submitted in writing a two-part alternative to the federal agencys mandate. The rehearing provides that FERC will read the written recommendation and render some kind of decision. The rehearing does not guarantee any dialogue or verbal negotiation.
Ameren recommends the utility company be allowed to redraw the project boundary to accommodate major structures and correct the boundary where it meanders past logic. This solution is intended to paint a broad stroke around condo buildings, homes and commercial structures. However, it does not specifically address decks, gazebos and similar structures.
The second part of Amerens proposal would grandfather smaller structures that would have been eligible for permits through 2008. Any structures not eligible would likely have to be removed.
In the past, it has been common for Ameren to permit structures now considered non-conforming by FERC.
While skirmishes between Ameren and thousands of property owners over boundary lines simmer below the surface even in a best-case scenario, the landowners by overwhelming majority are on the side of the solutions now before FERC to circumvent the decimation of local property values.
Assuming FERC softens and the federal hurdle is overcome, landowners intent on disputing boundary claims made by Ameren will have to come armed with elevation surveys of their properties. Estimates are in the thousands of dollars per property to accumulate the proper documentation.
Lake of the Ozarks is unique in its development and management, so the justification of a custom solution is reasonable. However, this Lake is far from the only one battling FERC over the project boundary issue. Lakefront property owners as far east as Virginia and west as the State of Washington are also on the front lines.
As FERC ponders the fate of Lake of the Ozarks, a petition continues drawing signatures from across the nation asking the Obama Administration to, "CURB FERC regulations, which overreach and overregulated the shorelines of its hydroelectric projects."