UPDATE: Lake of the Ozarks buildings could stay after regulators revise order

Thursday, November 10, 2011 | 5:24 p.m. CST; updated 6:23 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 10, 2011
A dock floats anchored behind Patsy Riley's central Missouri lakefront home on the Lake of the Ozarks near Camdenton on Oct. 31. The Lake of the Ozarks was created in 1931 as a hydroelectric project and is now owned by Ameren Missouri. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ruled recently that thousands of residences and other structures identified as being built within the hydroelectric project should be removed. Riley and other outraged landowners point to property deeds they say allowed construction. Ameren has requested a rehearing with the federal agency.

JEFFERSON CITY — Homes and other structures built along Lake of the Ozarks may be allowed to remain after federal energy regulators on Thursday revised directions for how to manage the shoreline.

Lakeside residents have feared they could lose their homes, patios and boathouses after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in July that many structures may have to go if they encroach onto land that is part of the Ameren Missouri hydroelectric project that created the lake.

In its revised order, the federal commission directed Ameren to redraw its territory around the lake by June 2012 to remove unneeded land so that most homes and structures no longer are considered to be within the boundaries. For structures that still interfere, Ameren was to work with landowners to find a solution to satisfy both sides. Federal officials said homes and other structures built on land for which the owners have a deed, lease or easement can remain and never were at risk of being torn down.

The chairman of the federal commission said in a written statement on Thursday that the revisions should resolve all the outstanding issues and that Ameren was expected to move quickly to comply with the order.

Lake of the Ozarks is a 93-mile long lake created in 1931 by the Bagnell Dam and Osage hydroelectric project and now operated by Ameren Missouri.

Ameren spokesman Mike Cleary said the power company was examining the 19-page order.

"We're pleased that FERC has acted on our request for rehearing, and we are studying the order in detail," Cleary said. "However, we cannot comment further until we have had additional time to review it."

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Jeff Wright, the director of office of energy projects for FERC, criticized how development along the Lake of the Ozarks has been handled.

"Ameren, through its inaction, over the last eight years has needlessly raised public concern and has mistakenly led property owners to believe the commission has created the problem," Wright said.

There has been near panic among some living near the lake. Several hundred people skipped a critical World Series game last month to attend a community forum, and federal legislation was filed by Missouri's delegation in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate that called for barring regulators from ordering the removal of homes.

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