Federal agency says lakeside homes won't be torn down
By Meghan Lane
Thu, 10 Nov 2011 04:00:00 GMT — Update: Thursday, November 10th at 9:40 a.m.: Many homes built along Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks may be allowed to remain.Officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday directed utility provider Ameren Missouri to redraw its territory around the lake so that most homes are no longer considered to be in the way of its hydroelectric plant boundaries.The decision revises a July order by energy regulators that had said many structures built too close to the lake may have to be removed.FERC officials said Thursday that they never intended the original order to affect property owners with valid deeds or easements. The new order gives Ameren until June 2012 to redraw its project boundaries around the lake so that fewer structures fall into the buffer zone regulated by the federal agency. Original Story: Thousands of homes, gazebos, docks and other buildings at the lake are in jeopardy. It's because of a ruling from a federal agency in charge of Ameren's power generation at the Lake of the Ozarks. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or "FERC" said the structures have to go because they encroach on Ameren's land. The ruling has triggered panic with Lake of the Ozarks residents. The Lake of the Ozarks is a vacationer's paradise and a homeowner's dream, but that dream is becoming anything but for some homeowners. "It's just become such as nightmare, such a nightmare, and it's one that we just can't wake up from," lakefront property homeowner Marsha Sharp said. Sharp and her husband bought their property 15 years ago and planned to spend the rest of their lives there. "We even joked that as we got old we could always just do our wheel chair ramps down to the dock where we could just stay here," Sharp said. But that dock, the yard, garage and house all need to be torn down, so said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "It's not as though Am eren or FERC even need this property for the generation of electricity, Sharp said. The Sharp's neighbor, David Staubley, is in the same situation. His home is also considered to be in the lake's boundary, even though Ameren has never filled the lake that full. "I TMm stuck here because I can't sell my house. If I walk away, I lose every penny I TMve ever saved," Staubley said. The homeowners aren't alone in their fight, Missouri lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have stepped forward. "It's ridiculous what FERC is trying to do," Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said. "You can't say to people who own their homes for decades, whoops, we're going to have to tear it down." McCaskill and Republican Senator Roy Blunt have filed legislation that would prevent any structures from being torn down. "Every member of the house, republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives, we are all united, McCaskill said. 4th Congressional District Representative Vicki Hartzler, whose district includes parts of Lake Ozark, is on board with the "Landowner Protection Act." "The legislation says FERC cannot have the authority to order the removal of encroachment as part of a shoreline management plan," Hartzler said. Homeowners said they also want clear titles to the properties they thought they owned in the first place. Because of the mounting outcry from residents and lawmakers, FERC is reviewing its order to remove the homes. The agency should release its decision by the end of the month.
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