Meet TRC’s legal counsel, Alex A. Sidles, J.D.

After interviewing numerous attorneys, TRC has chosen Alex Sidles as the best person to represent us in our work to save our rural environment. His history in the military and knowledge of weaponry combined with his love of the outdoors makes him a compelling choice.

Alex is an Associate at Bricklin and Newman, a highly regarded firm in Seattle specializing in environmental and land use law. His work there focuses on preserving high-quality, beautiful spaces for people as well as wildlife. In his private life Alex is an avid open-water kayaker who has paddled from Washington to Alaska.

“People like the Tarboo Ridge Coalition are the reason I got into the law, says Alex. “I’m a big user of our state’s public lands, so I know how important it is to prevent a small number of bad actors from ruining the environment for the rest of us.”

Before joining Bricklin and Newman, Alex was a staff sergeant in the US Marines. He is a veteran of five combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Previously, he taught high school and elementary English for several years in the outer islands of Chuuk and Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. Alex earned his Juris Doctorate at the University of Washington School of Law. During law school he has clerked at the King County Public Defenders, Earthjustice, and the Washington Forest Law Center.

TRC looks forward to working with Alex for as long as it takes to secure our environment.

Kathleen Kler will not run again for County Commissioner

Kathleen Kler has announced that for personal reasons she will not run for another term as Jefferson County Commissioner. This is disappointing for the Tarboo Ridge Coalition as we have felt confident in her leadership as our representative in south county. We sincerely thank her for her work up to now and her continuing hard work for the rest of her term. We are confident that without the work of campaigning she will continue to guide the county in a way that maintains its integrity. —Teri Hein

Learn more from this March 14, 2018  article in the Port Townsend Leader.

Final action on moratorium: sensible planning proceeds

Today the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) gave final approval for the Moratorium Ordinance passed on December 18, 2017, as revised to allow noise testing. Now in place is a “moratorium of up to one year on permits to modify existing or establish new commercial shooting facilities in unincorporated Jefferson County… [during which time] Jefferson County will assess the impacts of existing and future commercial shooting facilities on public safety, the environment, and land use compatibility, and identify reasonable mitigating measures.” (source: Ordinance No. 05-1218-17; and BoCC Agenda Request dated February 20, 2018).

Thank you TRCers, for your part in supporting the Moratorium with your letters, appearances at public hearings, and petition signatures!

The BoCC will now turn to forming a nine-member Review Committee to be composed of: “ a resident or property owner from each of the three Commissioner Districts, a representative of tribal interests if they wish, one at-large County resident or property owner, a representative of each current commercial shooting facility, the Director of the Department of Community Development or designee, the County Sheriff or designee, and the Director of Environmental Health or designee…(and) a consultant to provide expertise and professional support to help the Review Committee and the County in their work to evaluate impacts, identify mitigation measures, and develop reasonable regulations to address them.”  Read more about the Jefferson County Moratorium Ordinance document here. And see the local news coverage about the public hearing that appeared in the PT Leader and the Peninsula Daily News—Robyn Johnson

Public hearing on the moratorium draws capacity crowd

A public hearing was held in the County Courthouse to hear citizen comments. It was standing-room-only in the hearing room, with TRC supporters in the strong majority, expressing overwhelming support for the moratorium. The 1200 signatures on the TRC petition were presented as part of the testimony. Read Kirk Boxleitner’s article in the PT Leader here and Diane Urbani de la Paz’s article in the Peninsula Daily News. —Robyn Johnson

Over 1200 petition signers say YES to the Jefferson County moratorium ordinance!

Together, we did it! Dedicated TRC volunteers collected 1,237 signatures from Jefferson County residents and property owners supporting the Moratorium. The initial goal for signatures was three hundred, but the final result far surpassed that goal! Residents were eager to sign for sensible planning for shooting ranges in the county. The petition also expressed a resounding NO to the proposed weapons complex at Tarboo Lake. —Robyn Johnson

Jefferson County commissioners vote to proceed with mediation between Fort Discovery, Inc. and the county

Jefferson Country’s mediation with Fort Discovery, Inc. means that mediation and the moratorium will proceed on parallel tracks. Everyone who supports TRC and the moratorium should still plan to attend the February 5 public hearing. The County wants our suggestions for reasonable rules to safeguard public safety and regulate commercial shooting facilities that might be built in the future.

The issue to be mediated is simple. Fort Discovery, Inc. claims the moratorium does not apply to it because they have had preliminary conversations with the Department of Community Development. They have submitted a pre-application. This is not the same as an application. Washington State Law is very clear on that point.

The County asserts both in the county ordinance and in follow up discussions with Fort Discovery, Inc. that the moratorium absolutely applies to Fort Discovery, Inc. because they had no application filed prior to the moratorium effective date.  Other than causing us some angst we do not believe TRC’s position has been or will be weakened. If it turns out otherwise, we will use every available means to defend our position that a for-profit commercial shooting and weapons training facility at Tarboo Lake is inappropriate and harmful to the economic well-being of Jefferson County.

The mediator is legally mandated to be fair, ethical, and neutral during negotiations, and to hear both sides without prejudice before weighing in with his/her opinion. The County has made it clear that any agreement made during mediation is non-binding, is subject to public input, and must be approved by the County commissioners. —Peter Newland

Jefferson County imposes one year moratorium on shooting ranges

On Monday, Jefferson County commissioners imposed a one-year moratorium on permitting new commercial gun ranges. They also announced the formation of a citizen’s advisory committee whose purpose is to “study the safety, environmental and land use impacts of commercial shooting facilities.”

We support this one-year moratorium—it’s timely and appropriate as there are currently no permit applications for a shooting range before the County. In unanimously passing the ordinance, the County commissioners have established a necessary, fair and thoughtful process to assess the impacts of shooting ranges.

Click here for the full text of the moratorium. See also Paul Gottlieb’s article in the Peninsula Daily News. —Peter Newland

Shooting range support: legislators deny giving it

An article in today’s Port Townsend Leader reported that state legislators denied giving their support to Joe D’Amico’s proposal to site a weapons training facility on Tarboo Lake.  D’Amico had issued a press release on September 1st stating, “We have support from the 24th District legislators” in addition to the S’Klallam tribe.  Upon being contacted, Representatives Tharinger and Chapman denied they had ever given their support. Senator Van der Wege said he gave “conceptual support” to the idea of a more rural location to alleviate noise complaints and increase environmental friendliness.  All three stipulated that this is a local land use issue.  Note:  just because people listen politely does not mean they agree.

Residents of Tarboo Valley are shocked that their location would be considered because of the proximity of homes and the noise issues. The “forested” site is enclosed by a tree farm expected to be denuded in the next 3-5 years, leaving the site exposed on the ridge top, only a mile or two away from many people.  Sound ricochets and echoes in our little valleys even with trees present–as we know from prior experience with informal shooting “galleries” at Tarboo Lake and other locations nearby.  Sorry, Mr. D’Amico, this area is NOT RURAL ENOUGH!! —Diane Johnson

Tensions with Discovery Bay

I’ve been researching the tensions between Mr. D’Amico and the Discovery Bay Alliance which,  if my understanding is correct, was formed to deal with the incessant gunfire and other related noise coming from the Fort Discovery site near Gardiner. A Seattle Times article dated January 8, 2007 helps explain the tensions. I would like to reference a quote at the end of this article from Mr. D’Amico which I think is meaningful for those of us who live in the area surrounding his proposed training center.  In reference to Mr. D’Amico’s long-time presence on the Discovery Bay property which, by the way, he doesn’t own, but leases from the Gunstone Family.

“I may be wrong, but I look at it as, ‘I was here first,’ ” said D’Amico. “The county needs to put a statement on the bottom of a building permit that says, ‘You are moving into a rural area and you need to be aware that shooting, low-flying float planes, Sea-Doos and timber harvesting operate around here.’ People need to understand what they’re moving into.”

I would respond to Mr. D’Amico in regards to his recent lease of the Tarboo Lake property:  We residents were all here before you and you should understand how much we treasure our serene rural environment.  We have nothing against guns, many of us are gun owners and can put up with occasional shooting and we’re OK with a low-flying airplane that appear once in a while.We also recognize that timber harvesting–if done correctly–benefits us all. Understand that we  have invested a great deal in our the current lifestyle and community.   And above all, understand that we will fight to keep this way. Click here to read Jonathan Martin’s article in the Seattle Times. —Teri Hein

 

A gun training facility near by?

An article in today’s Port Townsend Leader reported that Joe D’Amico has submitted a pre-application to install what he calls a “recreational and training facility” on the north shore of Tarboo Lake.  Apparently he has leased 40 acres from James Worthington (think Worthington mansion in Quilcene). This “recreational and training facility”, according to the newspaper, proposes to include seven gun ranges, two helicopter pads, bunk houses, an RV park and other facilities.

Probably the most concerning quote from Mr. D’Amico to me came from his own press release:

“Our intent is to relocate the higher-intensity uses of Fort Discovery to this location, which is surrounded by commercial forestland,” D’Amico said in a press release, echoing Johnson.

I’m already aware that the facility he has had on Discovery Bay has caused a great deal of friction with his neighbors because of the relentless noise which, I believe, includes explosions and tons of semi-automatic fire. To say we here in the peaceful Tarboo Valley are concerned is, well, an understatement.

The property where all this is proposed is located on the north end of Tarboo Lake where many people recreate. It is immediately surrounded by Pope timberland, but there are many, many homes within a 5 mile radius, that would be adversely affected if this project goes through.   —Teri Hein

Click here to see article in Port Townsend Leader