IDL silent on Priest Lake auctions

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SANDPOINT - The Idaho Department of Lands announced Tuesday that 62 state lease lots at Priest Lake were going up for auction next month.

Those lots are held be lessees who more or less wanted to participate in IDL's plan to get out of the cottage site business.

But IDL was silent Wednesday on how it intends to proceed with the auction of lots held by people who have disagreed with or challenged the department's divestment process.

Department spokeswoman Emily Callihan could not be reached for comment and did not return messages left at her office and on her cellphone.

Callihan said on Tuesday there would be additional auctions of lots at Priest Lake, but did not elaborate.

Legal notices for the auction of the 62 lots are published in today's Daily Bee.

The auction is set for 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28 at The Coeur d'Alene Resort. The lots can't be put up for sale on the open market because the Idaho Constitution holds that such lands can only be sold at auction.

The auction only involves land. If a current lessee does not emerge as the highest bidder, the winner must pay the lessee for the home and improvements on the land.

Two similar auctions have already been held for lots at Payette Lake, but there was little competitive bidding, Callihan said on Tuesday. Most of the competitive bidding involved waterfront lots that had no improvements on them, she said.

"If the auctions at Payette Lake have been any indication of what might happen at Priest Lake, there really hasn't been that much competitive bidding," Callihan has said.

All of the 350-plus lots at Priest have improvements on them.

And while some lessees appear to be embracing IDL's plan to divest its ownership of the lots, there are scores who don't.

The state's divestment has prompted a flurry of litigation from Priest Lake lessees who contend the appraisal processes used by the state are deeply flawed.

However, 1st District Judge Barbara Buchanan declined in June to grant a preliminary injunction to bar the state from using the appraisals. More than 70 cottage site lessees sued to block the appraisals and argued that they had a due-process right to renew their leases.

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