Sunday, October 30, 2011

Senators wade into Lake of the Ozarks land issue

U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have introduced legislation that will prevent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from requiring the removal of homes or businesses built within the boundary of a hydroelectric project, the senators announced this morning. According to FERC, thousands of property owners built homes, decks, gazebos and patios on land that belongs to Ameren Missouri's Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric project, which the agency regulates. So FERC issued an order stating that all of the so-called nonconforming structures must be removed. St. Louis-based Ameren, caught in the middle of the dispute, has asked the federal agency to reconsider, at least with respect to the 1,200-plus residences in jeopardy. The utility, which manages the shoreline under federal oversight, wants to redraw the hydroelectric project boundary to exclude most, if not all, of the homes in danger. About four thousand properties would be in jeopardy, according to a news release from Blunt and McCaskill. In September, McCaskill and Blunt strongly urged FERC to rescind its plan and allow Ameren to redraw the project boundary, according to the release. Now they have drawn up the Landowner Protection Act, which would prohibit FERC from issuing any shorelines management plan that requires the removal of structures along the lake, and would be enforced retroactively to January 2011 — thereby applying to FERC’s current management plan for the Ozarks. The measure would protect most existing waterfront properties, allowing only the removal of structures built in "bad faith," according to the release...more

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