April 18, 2007 in Idaho

Dock waits on Scouts’ agreement

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The state has approved a request for a 22-slip community dock on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene near Gotham Bay but first wants the developer to hash out a use agreement with a neighboring Boy Scouts summer camp.

The private dock is part of the 46-lot Gotham Bay Estates, on 165 acres that overlook the lake.

Tim McCandless, of the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America, said he’s glad the state prioritized the safety of the Camp Easton children. This summer nearly 1,300 Scouts from across the West will swim, boat and sail at the camp, which began in 1920.

“We’re not interested in more boats in the bay, but if there are going to be more boats in the bay we appreciate that the state is protecting our interest,” McCandless said Tuesday.

Yet other neighbors aren’t so pleased and argue that the state ignored concerns such as traffic impacts and potential harm to Gotham Bay Creek. They say an appeal is definite, although nobody was specific about who would actually file for reconsideration within 20 days.

“The decision (the state) made is not reasonable; it’s totally bogus,” said Tom Little, who lives next door to the development on Gotham Bay Road.

He claims the housing development has already affected the quality of his drinking water and that the community dock would harm fish in Gotham Bay Creek. Little also said the marina would eliminate a lot of water surface from public use, meaning less space for him to fish in the bay.

Attorney Jim Magnuson, who represents the project’s developer, Big Rock Timber and Development, wasn’t available for comment Tuesday.

McCandless said the Boy Scouts are drafting a proposed agreement and have had preliminary conversations with Big Rock representatives.

The April 12 decision by the Idaho Department of Lands gives the developer 60 days to formalize the agreement with the Boy Scouts.

If an agreement isn’t reached, Big Rock will still get the dock permit, but it’s valid “only so long as the dock users do not unduly interfere with the Boy Scouts’ established recreational use,” the decision reads.

McCandless said the agreement will include a no-wake zone in the bay and would establish travel lanes for the boats coming in and out of the marina. All these plans would require more buoys.

Big Rock also will include stringent rules for speed, noise and boat traffic control in the homeowner’s agreement, McCandless said.

He added that the permit is conditional and if homeowners stop abiding by the agreement the state could revoke the dock permit.

“It’s good to know the safety of the Scouts comes first as far as the state is concerned,” McCandless said.

Big Rock has agreed to allow the Boy Scouts to use the new dock as a lifeguard station so they can have a full view of the bay, McCandless said. Currently the Camp Easton lifeguards can’t see around the point.

Jim Norconk, whose home will overlook the marina, questions potential enforcement, which he said is already lacking on the lake.

“It’s an irresponsible act,” Norconk said.

The Lands Department had a public hearing on the proposal in March. The hearing examiner said many of the issues raised were outside the jurisdiction of the agency, including traffic concerns on Highway 97 and whether kokanee use Gotham Bay Creek.

The housing development and proposed 25-space parking area are on the hillside above the lake. That means homeowners will have to walk across Highway 97 to get from the parking lot to the waterfront. In March, Magnuson said intersection improvements to the highway and Gotham Bay Road will increase safety and he anticipates a marked crosswalk.

All the homeowners could use the beach area, but only some would pay to have boat slips.


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