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Changes proposed for planning board bylaws

By Michael Howell

After reviewing the proposed changes to the Planning Board Bylaws made by the Planning Board itself, the County Commissioners made some recommendations of their own and bounced it back to the Planning Board for further review.

One change being considered is to reduce the number of voting members on the 12-person board by making the Ravalli County Park Board member a non-voting member of the Planning Board. Under the proposal, voting members would include one from each of the valley’s seven school districts, three at-large members and one from the Bitterroot Conservation District.

An effort was made to change the requirements that could lead to a removal of a member from the board. Instead of failing to attend at least two thirds of the meetings in any given calendar year, the board suggested changing it to failure to attend three meetings in a year, unless the absences are excused by the Planning Administrator.

Planning Board President Jan Wisniewski said the change was proposed to stop planning board members from scuttling the board’s activity by not showing up and causing a lack of a quorum.

Bill LaCroix bashed the proposed change as a tactic aimed at forcing Planning Board members to attend meetings that have nothing to do with their jurisdiction, such as the recent information meeting on Agenda 21, or face being kicked off the board.

The Commissioners were reluctant to endorse the proposed change. Commissioner J.R. Iman noted that if the board met regularly twice a month it would mean a member would be booted off for missing three out of 24 meetings. He felt that was an unreasonable requirement on a volunteer board.

Another proposed change would strip a member of his or her right to vote on a subdivision review if they missed any portion of the discussion. If the review covers more than one meeting they can, by reviewing the audio of the missed meeting, be considered up to date and vote on the subdivision.

The Commissioners requested that the Planning Board also look at including a provision for mileage reimbursement. The request from the Commissioners included making sure the Planning Board received mileage quarterly, instead of waiting for an entire year to claim the mileage so that the amounts did not get too large at one time and also to look at provisions to make sure the mileage claims would not be abused.

A Planning Board meeting is scheduled for May 16, at 3 p.m. to reconsider the proposed changes.

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