PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners decided Monday to deliberate further on a proposed shooting facilities ordinance, delaying making a decision until at least Friday.
They agreed to hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. Friday at the Northwest Maritime Center, where they would continue their deliberations on the draft ordinance on commercial shooting facilities.
During the hour-and-a-half discussion at Fort Worden on Monday morning, the commissioners discussed concerns they had about the ordinance, including whether the military should be able to train at commercial facilities, whether people should be able to anonymously report violations and whether law enforcement should be allowed to train at night. About 20 people attended.
The commissioners enacted a year-long moratorium on new shooting facilities in December following Joe D’Amico’s proposal for a shooting and archery range on 40 acres near Tarboo Lake, a few miles from Quilcene.
County officials have said the moratorium was in response to public concerns about shooting ranges in general, and was not limited to D’Amico’s proposed facility, named the Cedar Hills Recreational Facility.
Commissioner Kate Dean said Monday she would not want to prohibit off-duty military members from using commercial shooting facilities, but questioned whether the Department of Defense should be allowed to contract with local facilities.
“To be clear I’m not talking at all about individuals who serve in the military,” she said.
“I’m talking about some unit of defense contracting with a facility to do training and shooting, which I think opens up for greater technology.”
She said the technology the military uses is beyond the scope of the goals in enacting an ordinance, which she said is to provide places for Jefferson County residents and law enforcement to train.
“Our local taxpayers support our local law enforcement certainly, but we also pay into the federal budget which is going to huge installations in our region,” she said.
“There are places where they can do that and we fund them to the hilt to be able to provide those services to their own employees. I don’t get why those impacts need to be externalized to our residents.”
Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Philip Hunsucker said the ordinance the commissioners are considering requires applicants to address the level of intensity.
“All those issues are in the operating permit,” Hunsucker said.
“It also has a requirement that the applicant say whether it is going to be used for law enforcement or military purposes and discuss those.”
Commissioner David Sullivan questioned whether it was inconsistent to require people’s names to be recorded when they report violations related to shooting facilities.
He said many comments have been about false reporting and what would be considered a false report.
Sullivan said it is likely that people could report violations in good faith but could be reporting the wrong party.
The ordinance as written would allow the county to prevent someone from filing complaints for six months if someone files multiple false complaints.
Hunsucker said the review committee had “extensive” discussion about whether names should be recorded when a complaint is made.
“There was a strong consensus in the committee that whoever is making the report ought to be a person who is identified so that followup investigation is actually possible,” Hunsucker said.
Commissioners also discussed nighttime training for law enforcement and military.
Jefferson County Administrator Philip Morley told the commissioners that if they do restrict hours based on health and safety reasons, they might want to include an exception for law enforcement and military personnel who need to train at night.
Morley said that noise from firearms is exempt from noise regulations from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As they discussed adding a provision that would prevent shooting after dark, Commissioner Kathleen Kler said that if they included language prohibiting shooting after dark, that would mean people could still shoot until about 10:30 p.m. during the summer.
“There probably is a rational relation to it being dark and being able to shoot safely,” Hunsucker said in response.
“If you wanted to do that we could do that, but as we’ve heard in the review committee and in the comments, it is necessary for law enforcement to be able to train at night.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].