J.R. Iman of Corvallis was provisionally appointed to the Ravalli County planning board last month. He and the other 10 board members were to be sworn in May 1. But Iman submitted a letter of resignation to the Ravalli County Commissioners on Monday, leaving the board before he ever had a chance to serve.
“It’s all a perception thing,” Iman admits, “but that can be a damaging as anything real.”
The “perception thing” is a subdivision proposal that Iman himself submitted to the planning office last week. The five-lot project has been in the works since last November, Iman says.
“Whichever way you look at it, this would either be the last subdivision reviewed by the county commissioners or the first subdivision reviewed by the new board, and it’s owned by a person chosen by the commissioners to sit on the board,” Iman said.
Last week the future planning board members sat and talked about the situation for about two hours. “No one threatened me. No one said I couldn’t do this and still sit on the board. We talked a lot about the possible consequences and how it would appear to the public,” Iman says.
Iman, who was recently elected president of the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors, is a Bitterroot native, one of two on the 11-member board. He offered the board a wealth of valley history and a unique perspective as a rancher/realtor/developer, according to acting board chairman Rocky Dubose. Dubose said the other future board members did not want to give up Iman’s knowledge and expertise but were equally concerned about what kind of public relations “hit” they would take in the community.
“Our charge and main goal is the development of a growth policy,” Dubose says. “The entire board is committed to that.”
Iman agrees, “I am totally in favor of a growth policy, a fair one that protects the people who are already here, but I can’t quit doing business.”
Iman was asked and has agreed to provide information and opinions to the board as needed.
“If this was six months farther along in the process, there wouldn’t have been a problem. I could have excused myself from any vote and we’d have been fine,” Iman says. “But this was too soon. It looks like shit. Even if it doesn’t stink, there are people who would think it does.”
The county commissioners will now have to appoint another representative from the Corvallis district to fill Iman’s position on the board.