BOISE, Idaho (CBS 2) — The Idaho Department of Lands says it will review and change some of its processes for leasing land in the state, following criticism over a lease that was approved on Payette Lake last year.
In a letter, director Dustin Miller wrote in response to concerned neighbors and community members who had previously spoken out in protest of a 28-acre commercial recreation lease that would allow for the development of an events center on the lakefront called 'The Lookout on the Lake.'
Those neighbors, who live less than 1/4 mile from the proposed development in the Tamarack Bay Condominiums, were concerned about the impacts this lease would have on the environment, traffic, safety, and public access in the area, among other things. Those same neighbors and others in the community also expressed frustration with the lack of public notification given about the proposed development. Currently, the department of lands is not required to notify adjacent neighbors or the city when these types of leases are received. Instead, all new lease applications are listed on the Idaho Department of Land's website, where the lease is advertised for 30 days. During that time, if conflicting offers are made for the use of that land, the process can ultimately lead to a public auction, but IDL says that didn't happen in this case.
In the letter sent to homeowners and other concerned citizens, Miller said that the department is reviewing its lease process to "ensure greater public transparency moving forward." The letter states that moving forward, IDL will notify adjacent neighbors and the city when a new commercial lease application is received, and that the department will look to find ways to better advertise lease applications so that interested parties have a chance to submit alternative lease proposals.
CBS 2 News also obtained a letter sent to a Tamarack Bay homeowner from Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf, which echoed neighbors' concerns about the procedures and process used by the Idaho Department of Lands in this case. Woolf said he felt the department didn't do enough to notify nearby homeowners, or to give them an opportunity to provide input. He went on to say that he was particularly concerned about the "insufficient notice provided to adjacent landowners, the city of McCall and Payette Lake impact areas, and the process in which the annual rent for properties such as this is determined."
Woolf wrote that his office is already working with the Idaho Department of Lands to address the procedures and make appropriate changes.
Any changes that materialize from these discussions though, will not apply to the commercial recreational lease for the Lookout on the Lake development near Tamarack Bay. Neighbors have continued to provide resistance to the idea of the events center, which would include things like pavers and an outdoor tent, along with a deck overlooking the lake. While the development is still on track to open sometime in the summer of 2019, the State Board of Land Commissioners will be giving interested parties a chance to speak at an upcoming Land Board meeting on February 19, 2019. That meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. in the Boise City Council Chambers at Boise City Hall.
The Department of Lands says that the boards commissioner, Gov. Brad Little, will determine the amount of time each interested party or group will have to speak. A spokeswoman for the department tells CBS 2 News that time frame will likely fall somewhere between three to five minutes.
Here is the full letter sent from Idaho Department of Lands director Dustin Miller to concerned landowners and other parties:
Here is a letter written from State Controller Brandon Woolf: