PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Craddock Verser told owners of a homeland security training operation based on Discovery Bay to put down their guns.
At least for now.
Verser issued a temporary restraining order for the controversial training center during a Friday court hearing of a lawsuit filed by Jefferson County against Security Services Northwest.
County Director of Community Development Al Scalf on Aug. 11 issued a stop work order based on the county code.
After Security Services President Joe D’Amico admitted that his training facility was continuing operations despite the stop work order, the county went to court.
Security Services’ lawyers argued that Jefferson County has not met all the criteria required to shut down an operation that is not directly damaging county property, the environment or nearby residents.
“It’s a difficult question, but I think Mr. Scalf has that discretion,” said Verser.
“I believe that a temporary restraining order is appropriate in this case.”
Negotiations under way
Both sides are now negotiating to develop a schedule for a hearing examiner to consider the case.
The county argued that since Sept. 11, 2001, Security Services Northwest has expanded the nature and scope of its operations on the western shore of Discovery Bay, notably building an unpermitted helicopter landing strip and expanding its firing ranges.
Such activities have been undertaken without Security Services obtaining conditional use permits, building permits or other permits required under the Jefferson County code, said Mark Johnsen, the county’s contracted attorney.
“This lawsuit is filed because of the blatant and systematic defiance of the law,” he said.
After hearing Security Services’ argument that the training center has operated for years employing between 35 to 50 people, Verser upheld Scalf’s ability to enforce the unified county code.
“I will issue a temporary restraining order until an appropriate agency decides on this matter and by that, Mr. D’Amico, I mean that you can not continue doing what you are doing,” said Verser.“I am saying you can’t.”