Blunt, McCaskill seek to block forced removal of Lake of the Ozarks homeowners

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By Tim Sampson
Photo by Kyle Quick 

Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo
. – Missouri’s Republican and Democratic senators have teamed up to introduce legislation that would keep a federal agency from removing more than a thousand homes surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks.

Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill will introduce a bill that would prevent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from forcing homeowners to abandon their property unless they can prove the individuals acted in bad faith and knowingly violated regulations.

Recently, FERC order that 1,260 residences along the lake be vacated, citing that the homes had been built in a little acknowledged buffers zone surrounding the Bagnell Dam.

“This is an example of a Federal Agency that acts as if common sense has been thrown out the window,” said Blunt, who noted that many of the owners had been living there for years with no knowledge of the violation.

Local officials blame a lack of proper oversight while the area around the lake was being hastily developed. Corners were cut and banks did not require land surveys in many of the cases.

The zoning infractions came to light recently when Ameren Missouri, the company that owns the damn, came before FERC for a relicensing hearing. Ameren sent a statement to homeowners saying they had no current plans to take any “adverse actions” against the homes that reside on their easement. But letters from FERC said the homes “should be removed in a timely manner.”

Blunt and McCaskill argue that FERC should not unnecessarily force the homeowners off their land – particularly if the owners had not been made aware they were prohibited from building. There bill would protect homeowners who were ignorant of the regulations.

Blunt had harsh words for FERC, saying the regulatory agency was overstepping its bounds and did not have the same authority to remove residents as other federal agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The federal government does not control that property in the same way they do in property the federal government has purchased and developed as a Corps of Engineers lake,” he said.