A rant by Idaho-based developer David Manookian during Monday night’s Missoula City Council might have ended his bid to build a controversial subdivision near the historic Flynn Ranch west of Missoula.
When Ward 4 Councilman Jon Wilkins opened the discussion of the project by asking Manookian how he felt about the nearly 30 conditions recommended by the city for the subdivision’s approval, Manookian erupted.
“I’ll tell you what I think,” Manookian said, angrily tossing his documents on the podium. “You’re trying to design my land…What you’re doing is illegal.”
Then he turned his anger toward Office of Planning and Grants planner Jenny Dixon, pointing an accusatory finger at her. “This woman, Jenny Dixon, has been a thorn in my side since day one of this subdivision. She’s the one who told me to do half of this and now you come here tonight and…”
At which point Wilkins cut him off.
Although Manookian later apologized for his outburst, the damage had been done. Council rejected the annexation, and thus precluded any further discussion of the subdivision, by an 8-4 vote.
Both Wilkins and Ward 1 representative Dave Strohmaier said Manookian’s outburst prompted them to change their votes. With their support, the motion to annex the property would have tied, leaving the matter in the hands of Mayor John Engen.
“I must say that I was on the fence about this annexation,” said Strohmaier, “but you’ve made my mind up for me with your behavior.”
Ward 3 councilman Bob Jaffe, who chairs the Plat, Annexation, and Zoning committee that put the conditions on the subdivision, said afterward he felt the Council hadn’t imposed unreasonable demands.
“All we asked him [Manookian] to do was follow our subdivision regulations and rules, and he didn’t do it. We asked him to put in roads and connections that are needed. We didn’t design his land, we just asked that he do it right,” Jaffe said.
Manookian said after the meeting that he didn’t know whether or not he’d present the subdivision to the County Commissioners for approval, or continue work with the city. Regardless, he seemed to learn a lesson.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he acknowledged after the meeting.