I attended the November 17, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.
This meeting was held at the Camden County Development Disability Resources Building in the Keystone Industrial Park. This is the same building where the Planning and Zoning meetings are conducted and it is set up to record audio and video. All three commissioners were present. There were about a dozen people there because the agenda was going to include Planning and Zoning items.
When lots get re-zoned, they first get reviewed by the Planning Commission who then recommend changes to the Commission for approval. The Planning and Zoning Department operates using the Approved Unified Land Use Code which you can find on this website:
Kim Willey, the Planning and Zoning Administrator, started off the meeting.
The first agenda item was PZ-22-0117 Dell Jones LLC, Re-Zone A-1 to B-2.
This property was in Roach, MO. The owner wanted a rezone to B-2 so he could build storage units. Someone was planning to live on the property, so Kim Willey explained that living on a B-2 would require a Conditional Use Permit. Apparently, the owner will cross that river when he gets to it. The applicant/owner was at the meeting. Nobody else spoke for or against it. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 in favor of it.
The Commission approved this re-zone unanimously.
The second agenda item was Kelly/Dominick By Mustain Re-Zone R-1 to A-1.
This was a 10 acre property on Mustang Sally Lane. There was nobody present for or against it.
Planning Commission was 6-0. The Commission approved this unanimously.
The third agenda item was Schulte Properties Re-zone R-3 to R-1.
The applicant was there but he had nothing to say. Nobody else was for or against it.
Planning Commission approved it 5-0. The Commission approved this unanimously.
(Usually, “downgrades” in zoning aren’t very controversial. So if an owner wants to convert a general commercial lot (B-2) to a low density residential (R-1), there won’t be objections. In this case, the owner is converting an R-3 (high density residential) to an R-1 (low density residential). Neighbors don’t normally raise a fuss about that.
Now, if you wanted to re-zone your R-1 lot into a B-2 so you could then get a conditional use permit for your massage parlor to provide companionship services….that might draw a crowd at a few meetings.)
The fourth agenda item was Southway Concrete Re-Zone B-2 to R-1.
This property is on Windmill Road. The owner came forward to talk to the Commission. It sounded like he wanted to re-zone two of his lots so his sons could build houses on them. He clarified that a third lot on the property would remain as B-2. Nobody was there to speak against it.
The Commission approved this unanimously.
The fifth agenda item was for McNally Trustee Re-Zone R-1 to A-R.
This lot was 14 acres for a proposed 4 lot subdivision. The applicant was present but didn’t want to speak at the meeting. One citizen came forward in opposition, but his complaint was about the traffic in the area on a road easement on his property. The Commission assured him that re-zoning the property from R-1 to A-R would actually reduce the number of residences that could be built on the property. The citizen was upset about the traffic on his road but said he didn’t oppose what the owner wanted to do.
The Commission approved this re-zone unanimously.
The sixth and seventh agenda items were both Grizzly Excavating Service Re-Zone R-1 to B-2.
The applicant spoke before the Commission. He wants to gravel the properties and use them to park vehicles. He has no plans to build anything on them. Nobody spoke in opposition.
This was approved unanimously.
The next agenda was the BRO Agreement. This initially sounded interesting on the agenda, but I was disappointed to find out that BRO actually involved the Off-System Bridge Replacement Program.
Although I’m sure if you have to cross a Poor-rated bridge to get to your house, this will be important.
It’s an agreement between Camden County and MODOT that will allow Camden County Road and Bridge to submit for grants to get MODOT to replace Camden County bridges.
That sounds great. Maybe our strategy of letting all of our bridges wash away is finally paying off?
It was approved unanimously by the Commission.
The next agenda item was a Certified Copy of Order allowing the Treasurer to transfer cash between two line items. It sounded like the Treasurer was going to transfer money to the Collector. I’m sure this is probably suspicious on some level, but I’m only one man trying to write everything down.
And then came the final agenda item. I walked into this meeting thinking it was going to be a milk run, but the last agenda item was:
Show Me Power
And they wanted to talk about the Tunnel Dam.
Before we even start out on this tale, I want to make it clear that I was a soldier, a police officer, and a detective. I am not a civil engineer or a corporate attorney.
Are we clear? And here we go:
Two representatives from Show Me Power gave a slide presentation to the Commission. Peter Dawson is the Chief Compliance Officer for Show Me Power. He spoke to the Commission while his partner clicked the slides forward.
Now, he looks all suited up and formal in that photo, but for this meeting, it was all blue jeans and LL Bean. It’s like a uniform for these guys. “I’m one of you.”
Show Me Power owns and operates the Tunnel Dam. They require a license from FERC to operate it. They received their last license from FERC in 1994.
I’m qualified to give a moron’s explanation of how the dam works so here it is: The dam stops the water but then there is a tunnel that routes the water toward the power plant. The power plant is at the end of the tunnel and the turbines at that plant use that water to generate power.
According to Dawson, it would cost Show Me Power between $5 million and $8 million to operate the power plant for the next 40 years. As Dawson talked about it, it was pretty clear that Show Me Power was not counting on the Tunnel Dam to be a big revenue generator for them.
Responsibility for the Tunnel Dam could have been assumed by Missouri DNR’s Dam Safety Unit if the dam was 35 feet high. Unfortunately, the dam was measured recently at 33.5 feet in height. No dice there. Presiding Commissioner Hasty mentioned they might want to get a second measurement on the dam which I thought sounded like an excellent idea.
There were three basic options for Show Me Power to handle the Tunnel Dam:
- Decommission the dam and leave the dam and power plant in place.
- Remove the spillway
- Remove the entire dam.
According to Show Me Power’s calculations, the costs associated with these options ranged from $2 million (Decommission) to $20 million or higher (Remove the dam).
Guess which choice Show Me Power would like to make.
I dare you to guess.
According to Dawson, Show Me Power would like to plug up the tunnel and seal up the powerhouse for the dam. They would leave the dam to nature.
Show Me Power would be responsible for maintenance costs on the dam and they would use modern techniques to check on the dam stability. They just want to come to an agreement with Camden County that they think FERC would accept. If Camden County agrees to partner with Show Me Power, FERC would be more likely to agree with the arrangement.
So to sum up, Show Me Power has a dam that they want to close down because it can’t make a profit. The problem for them is the dam. Do they remove the dam and release the Niangua River? They’d prefer to just leave it up and just keep an eye on it?
We might need some more meetings on this one.
And that was that.