PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners have unanimously approved two no-shooting areas in the Ocean Grove area east of Beckett Point.
The decision came after a public hearing Monday during the commissioners’ weekly meeting.
The two areas are established around three neighborhoods along Cape George Road: Ocean Grove Estates, Ocean Grove No. 2 and Ocean Grove No. 3, which are all located in voting precinct No. 105 southeast of Port Townsend.
The larger no-shooting zone is bound by Kruse Street to the west, Huntingford Street to the north and Discovery Crest Place to the south. The southern end of the zone extends down to the water, encompassing a 20-acre green belt owned by the local homeowners association, which was set aside for hiking.
The larger area also extends down Cape George Road less than a mile past the intersection with Myrtle Street.
The smaller area is further north, along Beckett Point Road and the homes surrounding Ellie and Hillcrest streets.
A map of both areas is available on the Jefferson County commissioners website at http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commissioners/.
Homeowners in the Ocean Grove neighborhoods requested the no-shooting areas by submitting a petition in April 2015.
While there were enough signatures to establish the larger no-shooting area, the smaller lacked a sufficient number of voters, so the issue had to be brought to the county, according to County Administrator Phillip Morley.
State law allows county commissioners to establish no-shooting zones if there is sufficient concern that humans, animals or property damage could occur. The county cannot grant a no-shooting zone based on noise complaints alone, according to Morley.
Dan Nasman, the manager of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association and the organizer of the original petition, said the Ocean Grove neighborhoods have been built up enough that shooting in the area is unsafe.
Nasman did specify that the zones would only ban recreational shooting, such as hunting or target practice, within the areas. There is no ban on owning a gun or using one for home or self defense.
“I just find it extremely alarming to hear gunshots so close to my home,” said Alice Lane, a resident of the Ocean Grove neighborhood. “It’s frightening and seems so unnecessary to have that kind of disruption near our homes.”
According to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office study requested by the county commissioners, there were six calls to the Sheriff’s Office about gunfire in the past three years in and around the Ocean Grove neighborhood.
“My home is just right next to the woods. I don’t know who owns that property, but I hear shots all the time and I don’t know where they are coming from,” said Arlene Sudol, also a resident of Ocean Grove. “It makes me uncomfortable and I don’t feel safe.”
According to commissioner Kate Dean, the vast majority of public comment the commissioners received was in favor of the no-shooting zones.
However, there were those who disagreed.
“There’s no reason for it,” said Howard Andreasen during Monday’s meeting. “Whatever happened in the past is not happening and never will again. This is really a whole lot ado about nothing.”
Andreasen was concerned that the no-shooting zone borders land owned by the Department of Natural Resources and is a popular place to hunt during hunting season.
According to Commissioner David Sullivan, because the no-shooting zones simply ban the use of firearms for recreation within the zones and does not ban gun noise, there should be no affect on hunters using the DNR land.
“This isn’t going to solve every problem,” Sullivan said. “This is narrow and focused and it’s focused on public safety. We have an area that is quite concentrated and it would make sense to not allow shooting in that area.”