Diane Johnson of Tarboo Valley addresses the Jefferson County commissioners on Monday with concerns about a permit application for work at a proposed recreational facility that will incorporate shooting ranges. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Diane Johnson of Tarboo Valley addresses the Jefferson County commissioners on Monday with concerns about a permit application for work at a proposed recreational facility that will incorporate shooting ranges. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Permit application for work at proposed shooting facility site nets questions

D’Amico intends to preserve structures for future use

PORT TOWNSEND — Residents of the Tarboo Lake area are asking why a permit application for work at the site of a proposed shooting facility was accepted for review by the Jefferson County Department of Community Development.

Jefferson County commissioners heard public comments Monday from several residents about work planned at the Cedar Hills Recreational Facility, a project of Joe D’Amico and Fort Discovery Inc. The proposed facility is located on more than 41 acres at Tarboo Lake in Quilcene.

Responding to a request for comment, D’Amico wrote that he intends to develop Cedar Hills Recreational Facility on property he owns near Tarboo Lake.

“Fort Discovery Inc., has applied for a stormwater management permit which the county requires as a step toward property development. There are several small buildings on the property, some in pieces, and all up on blocks. The intent is to preserve the structures for future use and that includes foundations, which require county permits.

“I own property in Jefferson County and I have a right to pull [apply] permits,” D’Amico said.

He said no new permit for a commercial shooting facility has been filed.

County Administrator Philip Morley told commissioners he was not aware of the details of the application.

“No completeness determination has been made on the application that was submitted on Oct. 3,” Morley said.

“What I would like to address is while the [commercial shooting range] moratorium pertains to the submission of applications and the processing for commercial shooting facilities, the application as I understand it, although I haven’t reviewed it myself, was not for a commercial shooting facility. The DCD had no choice to at least accept it. Now they are reviewing it as to its completeness and whether it is, indeed, a non-commercial facility. That’s where things stand right now.”

Commissioner David Sullivan warned the public not to jump to conclusions about what might have been done.

“It is important not to make assumptions when you first hear about something. The county commissioners have not made any exceptions to our moratorium ordinance and haven’t had any closed meetings about that.”

Peter Newland, president of the Tarboo Ridge Coalition, said his group has been actively participating in the public process to gather information and comments from Jefferson County citizens to shape a gun range ordinance.

“It is very clear in the initial application and the SEPA [State Environmental Policy Act] checklist that this is the beginning of an application for a commercial shooting facility,” Newland said. “There can be no doubt about it.”

“Admittedly, they want a foundation for one building and storm drainage work. However, the project has not been approved and the back-up material is not in place. There is no available site plan. None of the pieces are there. Moreover, the moratorium is clear and unambiguous. There is no reason why Jefferson County should be even looking at this.”

“To preserve the public trust, that application needs to be returned this morning. It’s the only action that has integrity.”

Riley Parker, who was a member of the Commercial Shooting Range review committee, is concerned with the DCD’s actions.

“Why did DCD accept, process and review the application?” Parker asked. “What actions will you take to remedy this defiance of your authority? May I suggest that you reject this application and restore our faith in our county government?

“The documents say it’s a private recreational facility with training, lodging, gun and archery ranges and it was received Oct. 3, 2018. It flies in the face of the moratorium for submitting or receiving applications for any gun range. It says there would be no submission or acceptance of an application. Yet, here we are.”

Tarboo Ridge Coalition’s attorney Alex Sidles of Bricklin and Newman reviewed the application document.

“This facility is ‘private’ only in the sense that it is privately owned and selective about its customers, as opposed to being open to the public,” wrote Sidles. “But if the facility is charging money for its services, as this one clearly intends to, then it is a commercial shooting facility regardless of its ownership or customer base.”

The 147-page application document outlines six phases to D’Amico’s project, the first being a foundation permit for classroom, water system, internal road, bathroom building, dry camping sites, 50-yard range, maintenance building, storage building, helicopter pads and archery range.

Phase 2 includes instructor caretaker cabin, septic system, parking, dock and 100-yard firing range. Phase 3 consists of the main building, power, a bunk house, bathrooms and additional septic. Phase 4 lists a second 50-yard range. Phase 5 includes a shoot house, and Phase 6 lists a 300-yard range.

The septic design will serve 20 people on average per day with 10 housing units for temporary and recreation use only.

“Fishing and boating, hunting, picnicking and target shooting” are listed as lake activities.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com.

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