Thursday, November 10, 2011


LAKE OZARK, MO- November 9, 2011. The Bagnell Dam realtors held their first of four workshops to help the members better understand the recent Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) introduced this summer.   They invited a few local experts including Bryan Vance from Ameren Missouri, Christine Cisar from Arrowhead Title and Stan Schultz from Schultz and Summers Engineering.  Stan said, “This forum provided us a great opportunity to better understand what FERC is requiring in the SMP, how it is impacting lake property owners, as well as giving me a chance to explain how our surveying services can help homeowners protect their property.” 

Vance began the meeting with a very informative presentation on the history of land acquisition at the lake and how Ameren Missouri came to be in charge of shoreline management.  He said, “Until 1982 the US Army Corps of Engineers managed the shoreline. Since that time Ameren has taken over the lead role in permitting and trying to get an SMP approved.” 

He had several slides showing how elevation lines conflicted with the assumed property boundaries and gave examples of homes that were on the project property and not even on the property owned by their owner.  Vance added, “Many of these structures have been there for years and these owners have no recourse.  We are asking FERC to allow us to move the project boundary line down to the shoreline so that these encroaching structures ownership questions can be cleared up.”
Bryan Vance explains how Ameren is trying to fix the problem.

While Ameren is working with FERC to adopt a reasonable SMP and get these ownership issues resolved it seems that the bureaucrats in Washington DC have other plans.  Despite strong opposition from Missouri’s congressional delegation, FERC seems determined to force homeowners to remove these structures from below the project boundary line.  Senator Blunt recently said, “This is ridiculous. An example of another federal agency acting as if common sense has been thrown out the window,”     

Ameren took over the permitting role in 1983 and in 2001 they began working re-licensing.  They held countless meeting with lake residents to come up with a workable SMP and were issued a new license in 2007 with the caveat that a revised SMP be submitted in 1 year.  Vance pointed out that in 2008 FERC posted the revised SMP and made no mention of nonconforming structures.  He added, “FERC still has to render a final order on the SMP, and we have no idea when that will be.  Right now we have already started working to move the project boundary line down to the lake and avoid causing the effected home owner any more problems.”

After Mr. Vance finished, Christine Cisar from Arrowhead Title and Stan Schultz from Schultz and Summers Engineering each gave short presentations explaining how title insurance and surveys could help homeowners deal with these boundary issues.  Christine went through several examples of lake front property deeds and the problems the old legal descriptions are causing today.  She mentioned, “Legal descriptions have a hard time following contour lines.  Contour lines are not flat and can intersect adjoining properties at different levels.  At the lake these lines are causing some serious problems and the only way to know for sure where a contour line crosses a property is to hire a surveyor.”

Stan reiterated some of the points others speakers had made and he explained why some areas of the lake have different project boundary lines.  “Just under 30% of the lake front deeds use the metes and bounds description and the others use an elevation number.  To make it even more confusing there are 14 separate elevation levels used in those deeds,” mentioned Schultz.  He continued, “Elevation levels on a property can dramatically change over time because of issues like erosion and fill being added.  These things can change the contour of property, which only complicates the boundary disputes.”

Stan explains how a survey can help deal with boundary issues.
All the speakers emphasized how import surveys will be as the lake area works through this process with FERC.  One participant asked Schultz what a survey like this would cost?  Stan replied, “We have worked hard to reasonably price our survey services at the lake.  We charge $400 for a flood elevation; $150 to mark the project boundary line and a boundary survey for an average lake lot would be around $1000.”  He added, “If you have a unique need or a large property we would have to look at the project and give you a specific bid for the survey work.”

Dee Dee Jacobs
At one point in the seminar the participants were asked if anyone had come across skittish buyers over this issue.  Almost every hand in the class went up.  When asked if any transactions had fallen through two hands went up.  Most agreed that it was impacting lake front property.  Dee Dee Jacobs with Jacobs Real Estate Partners RE/MAX, said she has definitely been dealing with the issue, “FERC’s ruling is having a devastating effect on lake front properties and we have added new discloser language to our contract to make sure everyone is informed of the situation.  The seminar was very useful in helping me better understand the problem and Stan did a great job of explaining how the elevation levels affect ownership and how a survey can help property owner’s deal with where the contour line crosses their property.”

While the FERC issue has become a huge issue locally and has even garnered national attention, many in our area are just learning the details about what property owners can do.  Legislation has been introduced in Washington to fix this problem, but for now Ameren and homeowners are in limbo.  Schultz concluded, “We want to do whatever we can to fix this problem as quickly as possible.  This is negatively affecting my business and the longer it takes the damage just grows.  Providing property owners with accurate and reasonably priced surveys is just one thing we can do to help!”     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks you for your thoughts and comments. It is our hope that these posts will generate a helpful and interesting discussion.