Commission: No military training at facilities

Recommendations to county exclude night shooting

Posted 11/27/18

The Jefferson County Planning Commission recommended amending the county land-use code to prohibit military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities, among other regulations, at a meeting Nov. 19.

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Commission: No military training at facilities

Recommendations to county exclude night shooting

Posted

The Jefferson County Planning Commission recommended amending the county land-use code to prohibit military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities, among other regulations, at a meeting Nov. 19.

Planning commissioners made recommendations to deliver to the county commissioners on a draft ordinance that will make changes to Title 18 in county code, which deals with land use at commercial shooting facilities.

The planning commission’s recommendations will be brought to the Board of County Commissioners, who will make the final decision on the ordinance.

Before it makes any amendments, the BOCC will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Commons at Fort Worden.

Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Philip Hunsucker said the changes to Title 18 that the planning commissioners deliberated are meant to be a “harmonizing” ordinance to go along with the commercial shooting facilities ordinance, which commissioners passed on Nov. 2, and which makes changes to Title 8 in county code.

While the planning commissioners voted to approve “harmonizing” amendments to Title 18 code that were recommended by county staff, they also added a few of their own amendments, focusing on adding more regulations to commercial shooting facilities.

Planning commissioner Lorna Smith, from District 2, brought forward several amendments, which the planning commission approved, such as prohibiting military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities, requiring shooting hours to be restricted to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., prohibiting landing an aircraft or discharging firearms from an aircraft or drone at a commercial shooting facility, requiring a 500-yard setback of shooting areas around any lake greater than 20 acres, requiring a 16-foot-high noise barrier above grade at shooting ranges, and requiring all shooting areas to be fenced to a minimum height of 8 feet.

Those amendments are additions that were not written into the Title 8 ordinance, and which Hunsucker referred to during the meeting as “the opposite of harmonizing.”

However, several commissioners felt harmonizing with the Title 8 ordinance had boxed them in.

“I feel like the planning commission was put in a straight jacket with this code we are being forced to consider,” Smith said.

Smith’s concerns were echoed by planning commission vice chair Cynthia Koan, from District 1, who started the meeting with a motion to hold off on all changes to Title 18 until the county had passed the comprehensive plan, so the Title 18 changes would not clash with the comprehensive plan. While Koan’s motion did not pass, she encouraged the planning commissioners to make recommendations based on what they heard from public comments instead of solely from staff recommendations.

“It’s important that we know the planning commission is not limited in what we can do,” Koan said. “We’re getting recommendations from staff, but we have some independence to make our own recommendations.

“We could make a motion that Title 8 be harmonized with this,” she added.

Many of the added amendments made by the planning commission did come from public comments the commission heard at a public hearing Nov. 7.

Members of the Tarboo Ridge Coalition, a group that is concerned about Fort Discovery’s proposed shooting facility near Tarboo Lake, spoke during the public hearing and submitted 10 recommendations to the planning commission, six of which were brought forward during the meeting by Smith and approved by the planning commission as recommended amendments to the code.

But when it comes to military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities, the TRC members proposed incorporating a measure from the Kitsap ordinance: the certification of gun ranges by military and police headquarters if any military or police training is proposed.

The planning commission took their recommendation a step further by proposing banning military and law enforcement training at commercial shooting facilities as one of their amendments to the code.

Currently, local law enforcement trains at the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association in Port Townsend.

“Since Fort Discovery (shooting facility) moved, the volume for law enforcement training has fallen all entirely on us,” said Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association president Jay Towne.

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting Nov. 26, Towne expressed his dismay at the Planning Commission’s proposals, describing them as “unrealistic.”

“We’ve got to find a way to take some of that law enforcement pressure off,” Towne said.

Written public comment on the ordinance will be accepted until the end of the public hearing on Dec. 10. It can be submitted to the BOCC by mail at P.O. Box 1220, Port Townsend, WA 98368 or by email at jeffbocc@co.jefferson.wa.us.

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