What’s Fair -What’s Not?
A day after agreeing to “mediation”, Fort Discovery’s attorney and the County began regular weekly meetings. These meetings extended throughout the 16 weeks during which a committee helped the County create a new ordinance expanding the size, scope and intensity of allowed gun range activities. Mr. D’Amico was a member of this committee.
46 weeks have passed since Jefferson County agreed to mediation with Fort Discovery Inc., about a moratorium on new gun ranges and owner Joe D’Amico’s complaints about Jefferson County land use rules. Tarboo Ridge Coalition, which opposes Mr. D’Amico’s plans to build seven gun ranges at Tarboo Lake, asked to observe the mediation. State law allows citizen participation, but the County and Mr. D’Amico’s attorney denied our request.
If the County Commissioners approve this new ordinance, gun ranges could be permitted to train corporate security organizations, military units, paramilitary groups and soldiers of fortune. The owner of the Fort Discovery Corporation said of the ordinance, “I think it’s fair.”
After nearly a year of meetings and communication between the County and Fort Discovery, they have not met with or appeared before a mediator. By definition no mediation has occurred. Nonetheless, whatever took place in those many meetings remains a secret because the County has redacted (blacked out) page after page of communications TRC obtained through public records requests.
What went on in those meetings should not be hidden from the public. What influence those secret meetings had on the content of this “fair” ordinance is unknown. TRC believes the County Commissioners should not finalize the new shooting range ordinance without fully allowing the public to know what went on behind closed doors. Openness, transparency, and trust in government demand no less.
Peter Newland, Board President
Tarboo Ridge Coalition