by: Beth Finello, Ozarks First

Congressman Billy Long introduced a bill (H.R. 7126), to protect homeowners on Table Rock Lake from being forced to remove existing structures due to the Army Corps of Engineers boundary lines changing over time.

Numerous homeowners around Table Rock Lake have structures on their property, such as retaining walls, steps, and decks which have been present for decades. These structures are typically part of the home or serve an essential purpose. Further, these structures have existed for many decades without any interference from the Corps. As the Corps has utilized more up-to-date methods to establish their shoreline around Table Rock Lake, they have taken the approach of forcing homeowners to remove these essential structures or have essentially withheld certain permits that the homeowners need in order to force a removal of structures that may infringe slightly onto federal land. This is despite the structures having been approved by the Corps at one time, or having never been an issue before. This approach by the Corps causes great expense to homeowners and creates conflict with property owners.

H.R. 7126 seeks to fix this problem by grandfathering certain structures that were in place before the finalization of the last Table Rock Lake Shoreline Master Plan in 1976. It would convey to the property owner the minimum amount of land required to maintain the eligible structures – and the Corps would not be permitted to take these structures into account when processing other permits for that property owner.

“It makes no sense to force homeowners to remove these longtime essential structures at great cost in order to get a simple permit,” said Rep. Long. “This bill simply seeks to apply some common sense to the process and allow for these decades-old structures, which were constructed under the assumption that they were on private land, to stay in place. It is a long overdue fix to a problem that the Corps should not be allowed to inflict on homeowners.”