Idaho to overhaul access rules

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho’s Lands Department is starting to negotiate new rules governing lake leases, docks, community docks and commercial marinas – and trying to determine whether marina or dock operators can “sell” individual boat slips rather than rent them out, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported in a recent story.

Members of the Land Board were “surprised and concerned” last year when told of rumors that some marina owners wanted to sell “dock-o-miniums” to boat slip users when the state owns the lakes and merely leases space on them to marinas. But some variations of that approach, with users buying rights to boat slips, already are in use on Idaho lakes, the newspaper reported.

“Our rules are really silent on that issue, and we want to address that so that it’s clear exactly where the department stands,” Mike Murphy, bureau chief for surface and mineral resources for the Lands Department, told the newspaper.

True “dock-o-miniums” like those sold in some states can’t happen in Idaho because the submerged land under the docks belongs to the state. That means marina owners can’t divide it up and sell it outright to boat-slip users.

But, Murphy said, “With the increased property values on the waterfront … we’re getting a lot of interest from the commercial marina owners saying, ‘We’d like to take a look at this to recover our money,’ and we’re taking a look at this to see if it can work.”

An initial draft of new rules, which will be up for public input and negotiation in the coming months, would allow a commercial marina to restrict up to half its boat slips to those who purchase a membership, a nearby parcel of property or a boat slip, as long as the rest of the slips remain open to the public. However, the arrangement could last only as long as the marina’s lease with the state, according to the Spokesman-Review.

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