The House Resources Committee has voted to approve two new sets of state regulations governing docks and marina leases on state-owned lakes, including a provision to allow up to 50 percent of a commercial marina to be converted to private, condominium-style ownership, as long as the rest remains open for public rentals. A subcommittee of the panel had reviewed both sets of rules, and had initially passed on the leasing rules to the full committee with no recommendation, and the dock rules with a recommendation that they be killed. Hagadone Corp. lobbyist Russ Westerberg testified against the dock rules to the subcommittee, but changed course today and backed the rules. George Bacon, state Lands Department director, said the Hagadone Corp. concerns were “just a misunderstanding about the rules.” Among the many changes in the rules are significant increases in dock permit fees designed to make Idaho’s navigable waters program self-supporting.
Bacon said the new 50 percent public-private rule for commercial marinas is aimed at preserving public access to Idaho lakes, by persuading some marina owners to keep their marinas at least partly open to the public, rather than closing down and having only private use of the lakefront. Though Idaho’s lakes are state-owned, much of the lakeshores is privately owned. Bacon acknowledged that some participants in the negotiated rule-making process to develop the new rules feared just the opposite effect – that more public access to Idaho’s lakes would be lost. “We agreed to disagree,” he said. The rules still need backing from the Senate Resources Committee to take effect.