PORT TOWNSEND — Greg Overstreet, attorney for the Fort Discovery Inc. and Joe D’Amico, has filed two lawsuits in Jefferson County Superior Court this month.
“Fort Discovery has decided to meet each illegal action, like a trespass, with a lawsuit,” Overstreet told county commissioners Dec. 17. “Two have been filed.”
“On Dec. 10, an anti-harassment order was filed against a Tarboo Ridge Coalition board member, who we have information is responsible for sending drones onto our property,” Overstreet said. “On Dec. 17, another case was filed, this one against the Tarboo Ridge Coalition (TRC) for the tort of aerial trespass.
“There is no case in the state of Washington on aerial trespass,” Overstreet said, adding that “this case will make new law.”
D’Amico plans to build a civilian gun range and military and law enforcement training facility — the Cedar Hills Recreational Facility — on 40 acres on Tarboo Lake.
The petition for an order of protection-harassment was filed by Joe D’Amico against Teri Hein, who, according to the document, is a neighboring property owner.
Hein said she did not send drones onto the property.
“I expect this case will be dismissed because Mr. D’Amico has his facts wrong,” Hein said.
“I’ve never flown an drone, contracted a drone or nailed a sign on a driveway near Mr. D’Amico’s property.”
TRC president Peter Newland said Wednesday that the group’s attorney will respond to the lawsuit against TRC in a timely manner and that he has nothing to add at this point.
Newland told county commissioners on Nov. 19 that a drone flying at 350 feet had captured photos of D’Amico’s property at Tarboo Lake.
He said that the photos showed work had been done on the site despite a commercial shooting range moratorium and that complaints had been filed with the county Department of Community Development, the state Department of Ecology and the state Department of Natural Resources.
D’Amico said then that he had done nothing wrong.
Overstreet said Dec. 17 he is often criticized for “threatening.”
“I don’t know how else to do it,” he said. “It’s not threatening to enforce your rights.”
D’Amico: drone overflights
D’Amico wrote that he needs protection from Hein because multiple drone overflights occurred between November and Dec. 7. D’Amico said he never consented to drone flyovers by TRC or anyone else.
He said his company, Fort Discovery Corp., has started the application process with the Federal Aviation Administration to locate helicopter landing zones on his property, and that continued drone overflights near a helicopter landing zone would be “incredibly dangerous.”
“Flying drones over my property and spying on me has caused me to feel that my privacy has been violated, seriously alarmed and annoyed me, and has caused me substantial emotional distress. It has also disrupted my business operations.”
He said he’s afraid of drones “crashing into the property and hitting me, my family, or contractors and damaging my property.”
D’Amico said the TRC and respondent seem “unhinged about stopping my gun range project.”
“I am afraid of them, including the respondent, who might use a drone to harm a person or damage the property. There were several suspicious small fires near the property this summer.”
He also said a Tarboo Ridge Coalition sign was nailed into a tree on his property, “in an attempt to intimidate me.”
He has asked for, ultimately, a permanent anti-harassment protection order against Hein.
In the aerial trespass complaint against TRC, D’Amico is looking for injunctive relief and nominal damages, and nominal damages for the invasion of privacy claims.
After saying that the group’s attorney will respond at a later date, Newland said: “What we find interesting is that there’s finally an admission that covert training will be done at the site.”
D’Amico’s suit says that “military and law enforcement training at Cedar Hills will be sensitive and the observation from above the facility will show training and tactics that could compromise the military and law enforcement units’ safety.
Overstreet told commissioners that Fort Discovery “allows Airlift Northwest, a helicopter trauma company, to use the Cedar Hills facility for free for emergency landings and takeoffs.”
Airlift Northwest communications director Sean Bacon said that there have been no helicopter landings at the subject property.
“We are directed by the local fire department to tell us where to land our helicopters,” Bacon said. “This subject property is not preset as a landing zone for us and we would not direct our flights there.”
Quilcene Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Don Svetich said that they tell Airlift Northwest where to land and they have never directed them to land at the Cedar Hills facility.
“We have them land at Highway 104 and Center Road at the park and ride, or at forest service property in Quilcene,” Svetich said.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Overstreet said that Cedar Hills has yet to be used by Airlift Northwest.
Fort Discovery has applied with Jefferson County to build a civilian gun range and military and law enforcement training facility on 40 acres on Tarboo Lake.
Plans include a 200-foot radio transmission tower for emergency and aircraft communications, a windmill to generate on-site electricity and three helicopter landing zones.
Patty Charnas, director of Community Development for Jefferson County, said the application that was received a month ago was declared “incomplete” and returned for more information.
In October, D’Amico had filed a lawsuit against the county’s Department of Community Development to force it to accept his permit application.
D’Amico also has filed four public records lawsuits against Jefferson County in 2018. Two have been settled.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]