PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County staff is reviewing information provided by neighbors of Security Services Northwest in the Discovery Bay area after they submitted a petition complaining of excessive noise and asking county commissioners to enforce a 2009 decision that limits and prohibits certain firearm and security training at the facility.
“Recently there has been an uptick in activity at the Security Services Northwest facility and some of us said enough is enough,” said Mark Clark, a citizen living in the Discovery Bay Area and a member of a citizen group formerly known as the Discovery Bay Alliance.
Clark, along with a handful of other Discovery Bay residents on June 26 presented county commissioners a petition signed by more than 70 Discovery Bay residents.
“That was gathered in only a week,” Clark said. “I know there are more people concerned about this than we were able to reach.”
Along with the petition the community group also gave the commissioners two disks of information obtained through public records and Freedom of Information Act requests.
County staff is currently reviewing and evaluating that information before making recommendations to the commissioners, according to County Administrator Phillip Morley.
Security Services Northwest (SSNW) is located at 3501 Old Gardiner Road and is a “full service security company” providing “armed and unarmed security officers and patrol services,” according to the company website.
Joe D’Amico, president and CEO of SSNW said the process that lead to the 2009 land use decision was “tainted,” in a written statement Monday.
“To date, SSNW has chosen not to make the scathing details in these documents public, in the interest of working in a positive manner with the new county leadership and staff in our ongoing effort to relocate some of Fort Discovery’s higher intensity uses,” D’Amico said.
Morley confirmed that D’Amico had been working with the county’s Department of Community Development to find a new location for some or all of his business practices.
The Department of Community Development is responsible for land use permitting in unincorporated Jefferson County.
D’Amico added that both state law and county ordinance allow the use of firearms on private property, unless specified by a “no shooting area,” and shooting is not subject to the county’s noise ordinance because it is protected under those same state laws and county ordinances.
“Security Services Northwest, Inc., and Fort Discovery are typically blamed for any gunfire, fireworks and other loud noises heard around Discovery Bay,” D’Amico said. “There are private gun ranges in the area, along with gravel pits that recreational shooters use.”
D’Amico also runs Fort Discovery, Inc., which is described as a “unique training facility,” on the businesses website. According to the website for Fort Discovery, which is also located at 3501 Old Gardiner Road, that business offers courses such as “basic/intermediate/advanced pistol,” “defensive rifle 1 and 2,” and “survival shotgun.”
“In the interest of being a good neighbor, Fort Discovery’s shooting hours are less than allowed by the state, and ranges are closed on Sundays,” D’Amico said.
The petition asked for the commissioners to “publically affirm” the decision made by the Jefferson County Office of the Hearing Examiner, implemented in July 2009.
The decision states that SSNW can provide weapons training only to employees of SSNW assigned to the business’ Gardiner Road location. The 2009 decision also limits the number of employees assigned to that location to 21 and limits the training to one firing range.
The decision also prohibits SSNW from providing weapons training to any third party including members of the public, law enforcement officers, military personal or employees of a company other than SSNW.
The decision also states that helicopters can only land at the SSNW campus at 3501 Old Gardiner Road to transport K-9 units, security personnel or for emergencies.
According to public records request made by Clark and other citizens, D’Amico had provided firearms training at the Old Gardiner Road location to a number of third parties including the Clallam County Sheriff’s Department in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
“Jefferson County hasn’t be able to police these actions because the order didn’t give any management instructions or anything to ensure they complied,” Clark said. “It just said don’t do it and we feel they haven’t complied.”
In 2005 and 2006 public complaints over gunfire at the SSNW campus sparked public outcry and eventually a public hearing and decision by the Jefferson County Office of the Hearing Examiner in 2009.
D’Amico fought the decision and the issue moved through the court in Jefferson and Kitsap Counties. In 2010 the decision was finalized after the State Appeals Court rejected D’Amico’s final appeal.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]