State high court takes up pilings dispute

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SANDPOINT — The Idaho Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Boise Wednesday in a dispute over plans to replace pilings at Lake Pend Oreille’s Glengary Bay.

Waterfront landowners Peter Shelagh Kaseburg sought permission from the Idaho Department of Lands to upgrade some of the 21 pilings from wood to steel and install a dock so they could moor a sailboat when the lake is drawn down during the winter.

The pilings were originally used to moor a part of a float house and to support a water intake line, but had no other known purpose.

The state processed the Kaseburg’s request as an application for a non-navigational encroachment.

Neighboring landowners objected to the proposal, contending that the dock could extend as far as 300 feet into the bay and hinder navigation. There was also concern that granting the permit would create a precedent other landowners could use to justify longer docks.

The department ultimately denied that request and a second request for a mobile dock system and a mooring buoy.

The Kaseburgs filed a petition for judicial review and 1st District Judge Steve Verby overturned IDL’s rulings on the matter.

Verby held in a written ruling that all pilings are navigational encroachments as a matter of law, regardless of whether they have ever been used to aid navigation. The alleged error tainted the IDL’s processing of both applications.

Verby set aside both denials, prompting the state to appeal to the high court.

An Idaho Supreme Court ruling is pending.

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