The debate over the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's control over lakefront property will head to Washington. Many lakefront property owners can breathe a sigh of relief with the introduction of a new bill that hopes to take the control from FERC and put it into the hands of lake communities.
"This bill allows states to opt out the purposes of the federal power act other than power generation. FERC could only have authority to oversee the turbines and power generation and states could develop their own plans for managing their own shorelines," Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said minutes before announcing her plan to lake property owners in Camdenton.
Hartzler stood just steps from the lake behind a home in Normac Estates when she told homeowners of her plan to give them control.
"I wanted to come here and visit with the people who are the most impacted by this egregious order by FERC last year that required the removal of their homes to let them know that I am fighting for them and that I am introducing this bill on their behalf to pull back this overreaching federal agency and return the power to them," she said.
Hartzler's involvement in this debate started when State Representative Diane Franklin asked for her help. "When I was contacted by some of you that are here today about how this is affecting your property and your home, I thought, 'I don't know what Vicky Hartzler is doing, but she has to drop it and get on this and she responded immediately,'" Franklin told the crowd.
Franklin believes that this bill will help keep private property in the hands of the homeowners. "This vehicle that Congresswoman Hartzler is giving us in this bill will allow us to have what we should have — local control over our area. We know this area better than anyone else. We know that it is a tourist area. We know that it is a homeowner area. We know that it is a business area, as well. We have been here for generations. Many Missourians have visited the Lake of the Ozarks and have enjoyed it. There is nothing we want to do more than preserve it for generations more," Franklin said.
For Hartzler, this bill is not only about private property rights but also about limiting Washington.
"No Washington department should have the authority to order the removal and destruction of homes. Here in Missouri, we believe in private property rights and this bill is taking a stand for those property rights and saying, 'Washington, you are overreaching your authority and we are taking that control back,' " she said.
According to the Congresswoman, the public has responded positively to her plan so far. "The reaction so far is very positive. Certainly the people here are sick and tired of Washington telling them what they can and cannot do with their lake," Hartzler said.
Page 2 of 2 - One Normac Estates resident, Patsy Riley, said that she supports "any bill that will get the Federal Government out of here." She has lived on the lake for 35 years. She described the majority of those years as peaceful until now. She hopes that this bill passes and that generations to come will not have to go through what her family has gone through lately.
Other residents seem to agree. "We should all be involved and do whatever we can to help," Jim Reinsager said. Reinsager is the president of the Dock Association at Normac, and has lived there since 1997. "We all have a stake in it, whether it's our homes or our dock. Right now, people don't even feel like they have a title to their property. We still have rights, and they need to be respected."
Many of the residents' main concern is their property line. "The current 662' line would put most of the houses under water," Bob Williams said. Williams is the vice president of the Dock Association at Normac Estates, and has been living there since 1980.
Residents' concerns seem to focus on their rights as private property owners. "Private property is private property, and that is what we need to maintain in the state of Missouri," Franklin added to the discussion.