Idaho auctions off 21 Payette Lake cabin sites

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Department of Lands has auctioned off 21 vacation home sites at Payette Lake as part of its plan to divest itself of the lucrative but difficult-to-manage assets.

Incumbent lease holders bought all but one of the sites at the auction Saturday in Eagle, the Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1oNamSE ).

The site that wasn't bought by a current leaseholder was appraised at $37,000 but went for $42,000. The buyer will also have to pay the former leaseholder $68,580 for the value of a home and other improvements on the lot.

The agency said 18 of the lots sold for appraised value. Two other lots had competitive bidding, with the current leaseholders winning. The three lots with competitive bidding brought in $33,200 above the appraised value of the land, the agency said.

About 150 people attended the auction that brought in $6.1 million for education and State Hospital South, a psychiatric inpatient treatment facility for adults and adolescents.

The agency said the money will be put into investments that will go toward the beneficiaries.

The State Board of Land Commissioners late last year approved holding voluntary auctions of 74 cottage sites at Priest Lake and 21 cottages at Payette Lake. The auctions for the Priest Lake sites are expected later this year.

For decades, state policy protected cabin owners, who own the structures they've built on land leased from the state, from competitive auctions when the lease expires.

But the state and the land board have been trying to get out of the cabin-site rental business, especially after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the policies set up to protect lease holders are unconstitutional. The court ruled that because the land around Priest and Payette lakes is owned by the state's endowment, the state has the obligation to manage the property for maximum long-term returns to the endowment's beneficiaries, including public schools.

One Priest Lake leaseholder challenged the rules for the process, but a 1st District Court judge concluded in December that cabin owners who lease state land have no right to continue leases once they expire.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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