The Cd’A opposes the wharf project near City Beach

COEUR d’ALENE — Coeur d’Alene and the Idaho Department of Lands are opposing a request for a dock near City Beach.

City attorney Mike Gridley said the wharf would be within the city’s designated swimming area in Lake Coeur d’Alene, which extends from the steps of Independence Point to Hubbard Avenue. at North Idaho College.

“It’s a designated swimming area under our city code,” he said.

The city filed its opposition to the request with the Board of State Land Commissioners on Thursday.

“The designated swimming area includes the waterfront of the municipal park which welcomes more than 100,000 citizens from June to September each year. Each year, more than 2,600 Ironman and triathlon competitors train and compete in this part of Lake Coeur d’Alene,” Gridley wrote. “Subjecting these athletes, children and other citizens to the risk of horrific injury from propellers or boat-related injuries would defeat the intent and purpose of the Lakes Protection Act and the greater public good. “

The code does not specifically prohibit docks, but Gridley said, “The problem is that a dock would encourage a boat.”

“It’s an encroachment that we think would encourage boat traffic,” he said.

The Land Board will hold a hearing on the dock application on Thursday, March 10. It is not open to the public and public comments on the application are not solicited.

The candidate for the dock is Justin Sternberg. Contacted by phone, he referred The Press to his attorney, Jonathan Frantz, who could not be reached for comment.

According to the application filed January 19 with IDL, the wharf would extend approximately 75 feet beyond the ordinary high water mark and has 78 feet of total front yardage.

According to a project description, Sternberg is proposing to build a 580 square foot wood-frame floating dock offsite. It would be delivered to the site by tug and secured by three pilings. There would be additional pilings “to support the aluminum access pier”. “Install an aluminum walkway,” the request reads.

The work would be carried out from a floating barge “in adequate water with an experienced crew”, the request states.

He goes on to say, “Minimal impact, standard and common tasks associated with the project. All excess materials are collected and disposed of offsite at an approved location. A full mitigation plan is not required.”

Gridley said the city believes the denial of the request was supported by the Idaho Supreme Court’s Dupont v. Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners case, decided in 2000.

In this case, a dock application was approved, but after the city filed its objection, the application was revoked.

“The city has produced evidence showing that the area has been a designated swimming area for approximately 40 years, and the city obtained an encroachment permit to place buoys around the area at least 10 years ago. Additionally, the buoys forming the outer limit of the swimming area contain signs that read ‘No Boats,’” according to the Idaho Supreme Court in its summary of the case.

The court report went on to state that “Dupont contends that the beach in front of the bathing area (at least above the ordinary high water mark) is private property and that he has a traditional riparian right of ‘wharf.’ “. Although shoreline property owners have traditionally had the right to “dock,” this right is clearly subject to state regulation, as reflected in the Lakes Protection Act. Based on the evidence adduced at the hearing of the disputed case, there is substantial and competent evidence to support the Board’s finding of “unusual circumstances”. We therefore confirm the decision of the Régie revoking Dupont’s licence.

Gridley wrote that the court found that the very presence of a long-marked bathing area constituted “unusual circumstances” that would justify denying an application for an encroachment permit: “It makes little sense for Council grants a permit for an encroachment when the intended use of the encroachment would violate applicable local and state laws.

Mike Ahmer, IDL Resource Supervisor, Navigable Waters, said IDL opposes the request.

Ahmer said he asked the plaintiff to withdraw his claim, but refused.

Ahmer said such a project should show significant benefit to the public, in areas such as economy and social.

Ahmer said IDL does not believe allowing a single wharf in this area would benefit the public.

He said the dock would be between the NIC water feature at City Park. There are 13 waterfront owners in the area and no docks.

For a prime waterfront location near the town, he said “under unusual circumstances there are no docks on this stretch of coastline”.

There are also fears that if one wharf is allowed, others will follow.

“If one person gets a dock there, then all those other plots could apply for dock requests,” Ahmer said.

A hearing officer will preside over the “contested case hearing”, which is not the same as a public hearing that may be held on a larger project, such as a marina.

The hearing will involve IDL, the claimant and adjacent neighbors wishing to comment.

Jack L. Goldstein