BOISE – Idaho’s state Land Board voted Wednesday to impose restrictive covenants on state-owned cabin sites at Priest Lake to ensure that the land use there doesn’t change as some or all of the lots move to private ownership.
A few Priest Lake cabin owners who lease state lots objected to the move, saying they didn’t want a homeowners association to enforce restrictions, but most backed them.
Denny Christensen, president of the Priest Lake State Lessees Association, spoke in favor of the proposal, while Kaari Burrows Davies told the board, “We don’t need to now put a homeowners association in place that’s going to cause division or wreck a good system that really is working.”
Several other cabin owners submitted emails to the board. One email backing the move, from Neil Maris, said, “Please do not let the voices of a few disgruntled lessees influence your decision. They DO NOT speak for us!”
The state is moving toward possible land exchanges or auctions to rid the state endowment of the lakefront cabin sites after years of struggle to charge appropriate rents. The endowment is required by the Idaho Constitution to be managed for maximum long-term returns, mostly benefiting public schools. The Idaho Supreme Court recently overturned as unconstitutional a state law that protected the cabin sites from conflict auctions when leases come up.
The board, which consists of the state’s top elected officials, requested a formal legal opinion from Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who found that the board has the authority to impose restrictive covenants without leaseholders’ consent. Wasden also advised the board to prioritize its fiduciary responsibility to the endowment’s beneficiaries.
State consultants and Land Board staffers said covenants would protect the value of remaining state endowment land in the area once some cabin sites change ownership.