Shooting range moratorium in Jefferson County continued

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners voted Tuesday to continue the moratorium on shooting ranges.

The commission voted 3-0 to continue the Moratorium Ordinance on Commercial Shooting Facilities and decided to have an environmental impact study done.

“There will have to be a review of what [the] ordinances say to make sure the permitting process is in compliance with the law and what the environmental impact on adjacent properties will be,” said Philip Hunsucker, chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney.

The moratorium was enacted in December following Joe D’Amico’s proposal for a shooting and archery range on 40 acres near Tarboo Lake, a few miles from Quilcene. County officials repeatedly have said the moratorium was in response to public concerns about shooting ranges in general, and was not limited to D’Amico’s proposed facility, named the Cedar Hills Recreational Facility.

The county and D’Amico have entered mediation over what the moratorium means for his proposed facility.

Commissioner Kate Kler said Tuesday she reviewed 496 pages of comments this weekend about the shooting range moratorium.

Comment topics ranged from Second Amendment rights and impacts, to the noise of weapons in communities, the type of weapons, the scope and density of those weapons, and the impact on neighborhoods, she said.

Kler said she feels that “the impact of noise is of great concern. We need to decide how to evaluate it — either subjective or objective. Noise ID is subjective so we need scientific evaluation.”

She said the issue wasn’t so much the Second Amendment as it was about land use.

Commission Chairman David Sullivan said it was valuable to do noise studies to evaluate the impact.

D’Amico, owner of the former Fort Discovery gun range at Discovery Bay, has moved buildings from that facility to the Tarboo land he purchased in September and has drilled a well and found water.

Talk of shooting ranges led to a discussion about guns in general in light of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“We focus on tragedies and we try to do the best we can with the resources and powers we have,” Sullivan said. “There’s a sense of powerlessness.”

Kler spoke about the impact of the school shooting.

“It was a hard, hard weekend,” she commented.

John Hamilton of Port Hadlock addressed the school shooting. “These things constantly bother me. Automatic weaponry does not belong in civilian hands.”

D’Amico, who introduced himself as a resident of Cedar Hills, agreed that the school shootings in Florida were a sad thing but, “people can’t buy automatic weapons, only law enforcement and military can.”

He said that the problem is much deeper than gun control and suggested that most families are broken and it comes down to building strong families.

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

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