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Land Board to wait for special meeting next week to vote on new cabin-site appraisals

Idaho’s state Land Board decided today to wait until a special meeting next week to vote to accept new cabin-site appraisals for state-owned cabin sites on Priest and Payette lakes, to allow time for a lessees’ group to meet with state Lands Director Tom Schultz and provide its comments on the new appraisal process, which allows for appeals.

“We’ve gone through quite a process on the appraisals, especially the Priest Lake scenario,” said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. “I feel pretty good about this one.” The key, he said, is that it’s defensible. “Frankly, the last one we did was not. This one I believe will be. … We’ll see what happens. And I’m one who’s always pushing to get it moving and whatever, but the main thing is to get it right.”

He added, “There needs to be a clear path. It’s been the most confusing, convoluted process that I’ve ever seen in my 40 years of working for the state, in what we’ve done in the cottage-site process. … I think we’ve got some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Chuck Lempesis, attorney for the Priest Lake State Lessees Association, said he thought the state’s latest appraisal firm’s credentials were “impeccable.” Noting that 60 percent of the appraisals at Priest Lake went down and 40 percent went up, Lempesis said, “Probably 60 percent of those people may be happy, and 40 percent may be unhappy.” He said, “I think Secretary Ysursa is absolutely correct – I think there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I think for once it is not a train coming.”

The state is planning to hold auctions on 74 Priest Lake lots at the end of the summer, for those lessees who’ve volunteered to go to auction. That means they can bid to buy the land under the cabins, and others can bid against them; if someone other than the lessee wins the auction, they’d have to pay the existing lessees for their improvements at appraised value. “That number of sales, I think, is going to be very indicative,” Ysursa said. Those who don’t go to auction still could see others bid against them for the right to lease the land.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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