After the County’s new Shooting Range Safety Ordinance passed, along with revisions to the Land Use Regulations regarding shooting ranges, we heard from friends who said, “Well, that’s over,” or “So glad you won!” Unfortunately, they’re wrong.
It’s not over. We haven’t won.
Despite hours of public hearings, despite months of meetings with the Moratorium Committee, despite strong support from the Planning Commission, none of TRC’s recommendations were adopted. The County’s attorney dismissed them as “too expensive,” “not necessary,” or “prejudicial and could lead to the County being sued.”
Worse, instead of prohibiting military and paramilitary training at private commercial facilities, the new ordinances expressly allow them. The Board of Commissioners and their Attorney have opened up 74% of forestland in unincorporated Jefferson County to new, large-scale, private, paramilitary training centers. Mr. D’Amico has advertised the fact on his Facebook page, offering to partner with individuals who want to join the Jefferson County Gun Range Rush.
What is TRC doing, in response?
TRC has submitted a complaint to the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board about the ordinances and the process that led up to them. If the Board agrees that the ordinances are flawed, their decision would invalidate the legislation—in effect, sending both ordinances back for a re-do.
TRC has also submitted aerial photographs documenting that Mr. D’Amico has placed buildings, bulldozed a gun range, and possibly filled a wetland at his paramilitary training center site—all without permits. When confronted with the evidence, the County shrugged. Although DCD sent Mr. D’Amico a letter requesting “voluntary compliance,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Philip Hunsucker told TRC’s counsel that he considered the violations “a low priority.”
Fortunately, neither the Washington State Department of Ecology nor the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are as passive about enforcing the law. Both agencies sent Mr. D’Amico letters stating their intention to visit the site and evaluate what they consider apparent violations.
What is Mr. D’Amico doing, in response?
Mr. D’Amico filed two lawsuits after he realized that TRC’s drone flights had documented his illegal activity. One is a restraining order against an individual Board member, and the other against TRC as a whole. Unfortunately for Mr. D’Amico, the drone operator we hired is an experienced, licensed professional who followed FAA regulations and state laws to the letter, to ensure both safety and legality.
As Mr. D’Amico’s claims have no basis in fact, we are confident that he will lose both suits.
But make no mistake: these are “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” known by their acronym SLAPP. This is paper terrorism.
STAND UP TO BULLIES
STAND WITH TRC
Will Jefferson County continue to be our home, a place where we want to raise our families? Or will it be home to large-scale, private, for-profit paramilitary training centers?
We are entering a new phase in this fight to create a future for fish, farms, forests, and families. We are moving from an initial effort focused on legislation to a longer-term effort focused on permitting and land-use regulations.
As TRC moves forward, you can be confident that we will continue to act with integrity, and that we will not be harassed or intimidated.
We will not be SLAPPed into submission. We are not terrified of paper terrorism.
How can you help?
We believe the vast majority of residents do not want Jefferson County turning into a haven for paramilitary gun camps. We must insist that our county representatives listen to their constituents.
We will soon be staffing information tables around the County to collect signatures on a petition that asks the Board of Commissioners to enforce the law, and investigate the illegal activity occurring at Mr. D’Amico’s paramilitary training site. We hope you’ll stop by to chat and sign on!
We also need your financial support, to fund our appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board and defend our Board members and organization against the SLAPPs, as well as be ready for any future actions that need to take place. One of D’Amico’s aims is to win by exhausting our financial resources and intimidating our board members with lawsuits. We won’t be intimidated and by contributing to our legal defense fund you can help make sure we save our county together.
Here we go, 2019!