Owning a lakefront property at the Lake of the Ozarks has many perks: great views, lake access, swimming, fishing and boating right at your back door; but if you are not careful about knowing your property's boundary lines, you could end up the lake without a paddle!
Imagine, after years of living in your lakefront home, discovering that you don't own all of "your" property. As a matter of fact, the dock you put in and the patio you built by the water's edge are encroachments on someone else's property, and that someone else just happens to be Ameren UE. If you are a lakefront property owner at the Lake of the Ozarks you NEED to know Ameren's property boundary lines before making any improvements to your land.
Homeowners whose property falls within the area in which Ameren project boundary extends to an elevation of as high as 674 feet above sea level are affected. The project boundary is set at 662 feet above sea level in most areas in the lower lake. However, there are properties in all of the lakes tributaries (Niangua, Little Niangua, Glaize, Gravois and Osage) where Ameren's project boundary extends to an elevation of, as high as 670 feet above sea level.
If you own lakefront property or are thinking of purchasing lakefront property here are the Top 5 things to know about Ameren Shoreline and what you need permits for at the lake:
1. Where's the Boundary? Ameren's project boundary is an elevation based property line that falls between the 662 to 674 contour depending where you are on the lake. Ameren UE owns everything below this elevation. In most cases, Ameren's property ownership is no different than any other neighbor with one exception. Sometimes people don't realize where the boundary is and build things that should be kept on their own property. The best solution is to have the property surveyed prior to buying the home and make sure the lake side property line is illustrated correctly. Nine out of ten deeds that say the property owner owns to the 660 or shoreline are incorrect in the lake area
2. Get your permit on-line! Ameren now has a new website that includes all Ameren permit guidelines for the lake, as well as, a customer web interface that allows you to apply for most permits on-line. You can access the site at www.amerenmissouri.com/lake or https://portal.lakepermits.com/
3. Where's the water? Lake levels fluctuate as much as six feet between winter and summer. The back of coves, offer fantastic, quiet settings away from the noise and wave action of the main channel. However, make sure you have enough water to navigate your boat to and from the slip. Six feet of water is plenty, but during winter drawdown what is six feet in the summer is zero feet in the winter.
4. My neighbor's over the line! Not all permits were issued in the "New Era" of lake permitting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued permits for docks up until the early 1980's. Union Electric issued permits on a first-come first-served basis with virtually no guidelines until the mid 1990's and only since 1995 or so that we have had more rigorous location guidelines for docks. Therefore, many docks are permitted over property lines at the lake. If you see a dock that looks like it is over a property line or encroaching on a property you want to buy, don't assume the dock should be moved - it may be authorized that way. Ameren recommends following a "what you see is what you get policy" and following up with a call to Ameren only if a dock is adversely affecting navigation or somehow limiting similar access or enjoyment for other properties.
5. Permits are required for all lakefront facilities! Many lake buyers believe that if they see proof of a dock permit - all is well. This may not be the case if there are multiple facilities. One should make sure all permits are in place for such things as decks, patios, seawalls, walkways, pumps and any other item at or near the shoreline. It's also not enough just to know there is a dock permit. It is important to make sure the dock permit allows what is there. It is not uncommon to find docks on properties that do not match the permit history. Keep in mind that permits stay with the land, not the dock. Reviewing the dock permit for a match and ensuring that all shoreline facilities are permitted correctly can save you a lot of time and money in after-the-fact permit fees. Worse yet if Ameren discovers something that can't be permitted under new guidelines, you may have to remove it.