WHAT OTHERS SAY: Balancing diverse interests at Lake of the Ozarks remains a challenge

Friday, June 8, 2012 | 3:41 p.m. CDT; updated 4:27 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 9, 2012

Threat averted.

Federal regulators have approved changes that will protect an estimated 1,500 private structures at the Lake of the Ozarks.

On Tuesday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission adopted boundary changes to Ameren Missouri’s shoreline management plan. Those changes remove homes, businesses and other structures from non-conforming status.

Some background may be helpful.

Ameren, formerly Union Electric, built Bagnell Dam to generate electricity in the 1920s and '30s and created the Lake of the Ozarks.

The utility owns a strip of land, called the project boundary, along the lake’s shoreline.

During the past 80-plus years, private property owners who secured a permit have been allowed to build decks, gazebos and other structures on the project boundary. In addition, some structures have encroached on the boundary.

Those structures were not an issue until Ameren included a new shoreline management plan in its 2008 filing with the commission to renew its license to generate electricity.

In its response, the commission’s reference to “nonconforming structures” raised questions, confusion and controversy.

Ameren subsequently was permitted to revise its management plan.

Under the new boundaries approved this week, structures largely have been removed, but wetlands, historic sites and recreational areas remain within the project area, subject to federal oversight.

The commission's action was hailed by Jeff Green, Ameren’s shoreline management supervisor, who said: “This should provide closure for many moving forward.”

Some Lake area residents and public officials, however, consider the reprieve temporary rather than permanent, and pledge to continue monitoring the situation.

We’re pleased and satisfied the threat to private property has been deflected — for now.

We must remain mindful that the Lake of the Ozarks is many things to many people with differing interests.

It is a vacation, tourist and retirement destination; it supports thriving business communities; and it is an ongoing hydroelectric project owned and operated by a major utility subject to government regulation and oversight.

Achieving balance and harmony among diverse interests is a continuing challenge.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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