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Lake Coeur d’Alene dock proposal raises questions

Tue., March 11, 2014

Glenn McDonald walks near a cabana owned by Roger Anderson on Thursday. McDonald is concerned about two community docks proposed by Anderson near his waterfront property on Lake Coeur d’Alene. (Kathy Plonka)
Glenn McDonald walks near a cabana owned by Roger Anderson on Thursday. McDonald is concerned about two community docks proposed by Anderson near his waterfront property on Lake Coeur d’Alene. (Kathy Plonka)

A developer’s proposal to sell ownership in a private beach and community docks on Lake Coeur d’Alene is getting attention as a potential precedent-setter for real estate sales on the lake.

Roger Anderson, of Boise, owns the Estates at Black Rock, a gated upland development, and also owns waterfront property north of Rockford Bay with two other relatives, Travis Anderson and Christopher Anderson.

Last year, the Andersons built a 1,755-square-foot beach cabana on the 360 feet of lakeshore they own through limited liability companies and a partnership. They’ve also applied for a state permit to install two community docks with a total of 12 slips.

Based on prior advertising, the cabana and slips appeared to be intended for use by future residents of the Estates at Black Rock, a 24-lot development that Roger Anderson acquired after the original developer, Marshall Chesrown, went into foreclosure.

An article in last October’s Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Living magazine said the Estates at Black Rock came with private access to a cabana and beach park. Real estate ads in the Multiple Listing Service through at least late January repeated that the lots came with a waterfront park and private beach area.

However, the Andersons’ attorney said last week that the advertisements were wrong.

“The ad was not reviewed by me before it went out,” said John Magnuson, a Coeur d’Alene attorney.

Ownership in the beach property will be sold separately and isn’t restricted to the owners of the Estates at Black Rock, Magnuson said. Others could also purchase ownership in the beach property, he said.

Either way, the proposal has raised questions. Nearby property owners said the Andersons appeared to be creating a private resort on a quiet stretch of lakeshore dominated by family lake cabins and small, wooden docks.

At the Idaho Department of Lands, where the dock encroachment application is pending, state officials are questioning whether a community dock designation fits what the developer has in mind.

“I think the spirit and intent of a community dock is to benefit a contiguous group of property owners,” said Jim Brady, IDL’s resource supervisor for lands and waterways in North Idaho.

The state’s definition of community docks says they provide private moorage for more than two adjacent owners of waterfront property, or other lakeshore owners possessing a common platted area.

State officials want to know who other members in the limited liability company are. That’s likely one of the questions that will be asked when the dock proposal goes before a hearings examiner on April 24, Brady said.

The examiner will take testimony and make a recommendation on the community dock applications within 30 days of the hearing.

The outcome of the dock applications could set a precedent in North Idaho, where real estate values increase exponentially with waterfront access.

“If we let this go through … we will most likely see a flurry of these community dock applications …,” Brady wrote in a memo. “This is not consistent with the intent of community docks or the Public Trust Doctrine,” which protects the public’s right to navigate wherever the water goes.

Magnuson, the Andersons’ attorney, disagrees. Many lake parcels have been inherited, so they have multiple owners, he said. The Andersons’ application is really no different than several families getting together to apply for a community dock, he said.

With four separate parcels, the Andersons could build four, 700-square-foot docks under current rules, Magnuson said. The maximum allowable size of 2,800 square feet is about 200 square feet smaller than the proposed community docks, he said.

But if the Andersons built four docks, they would be for single-family use, IDL’s Brady said.

Neighbors said the Andersons’ proposal would alter the character of their rural residential area.

“We certainly understand that the owners of this beach property are entitled to a dock,” nearby property owners George and Lila Girvin wrote in a letter to the Idaho Department of Lands. But the dock should be compatible with others in the quiet stretch of lakeshore, the couple said.

Four generations of Robbie Dennie’s family enjoy the lake cabin that her dad built in 1968. Dennie, a Spokane resident, said her family members and the neighbors swim and kayak off their docks, and their kids learn how to waterski there.

The Andersons’ dock proposal would mean more boat traffic, bigger boats and bigger wakes, she said, noting that the slips would be 30 feet long.

Neighbors also have questions about the future use of the cabana. The cabana’s building permit, issued by Kootenai County, indicated that the beach structure was an accessory living unit and would not be used for commercial or community use. Ben Tarbutton, a county planner, said that if the cabana’s use changes, the owners may need a different permit.

For Jill Payton, who owns the property next door to the cabana, the Andersons’ plans equate to big changes on the lake. The lazy afternoons she spent sitting out on her dock and reading may be a thing of the past, she said.

“It’s troubling for the entire area to have this happen,” said Payton, who grew up in Spokane and now lives in the Seattle area. “It’s going to change the landscape of the lake and the shoreline.”

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