CAMDENTON, Mo. (AP) -- Homeowners along Missouri's popular Lake of the Ozarks say a move by federal regulators dealing with management of the shoreline could jeopardize thousands of homes and other buildings, and they're fighting back.
A public meeting that attracted several hundred people stretched late into the night Thursday as residents vented concerns about the management plan. An estimate suggests that several thousand homes could be at risk, along with gazebos and other structures built along the shoreline.
The Lake of the Ozarks is formed by a dam owned by utility Ameren Missouri, which recently said numerous homes and structures are on land used by its hydroelectric dam project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order that called for removing the structures in most cases, but the utility has proposed redrawing project boundaries to exclude many homes. Ameren has asked for a rehearing from the FERC.
The issue has prompted fears and confusion about what could happen to homes and the communities that have developed near the Lake of the Ozarks, a popular Midwest tourist attraction that helps drive the region's economy.
During Thursday's town hall meeting, held near the reservoir in a school auditorium in Camdenton, residents and public officials talked about lakeside property rights, voiced their anger and pledged action. Some said the controversy has generated significant confusion and shock.
"We need to come together as one community to stand strong for private property rights," said Cliff Luber, president of the Lake Area Conservative Club, which sponsored the meeting.
Luber said the event was a first step toward organizing a grass-roots campaign to respond. He said people are frustrated and are not getting anywhere by trying to fight back on their own. He said there needs to be a permanent solution so the same fight doesn't resurface in the future.
Luber said federal regulators were invited to send a representative but did not respond.
One resident, Sparky Sharp, said people only want the full-use of property that they bought and pay taxes on.
The Lake of the Ozarks was created in 1931, and it's about an hour's drive southwest of Jefferson City. The winding reservoir is about 93 miles long but has about 1,150 miles of shoreline. Homes and condominiums dot parts of its shore.
Controversy settling over the Lake of the Ozarks also has prompted members of Congress from Missouri to get involved. This week, legislation was filed in the U.S. House that would bar federal regulators from requiring that homes and other buildings be removed unless they were built in bad faith. Similar legislation already was filed by Missouri's two U.S. senators.
Other lake property owners have scheduled another meeting for Nov. 19.