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Fort Discovery brings TRC member permits into question

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After the Tarboo Ridge Coalition filed three complaints with Jefferson County two weeks ago claiming Fort Discovery had begun development on a proposed shooting facility without proper permits, Fort Discovery owner Joe D’Amico fired back with a complaint of his own Dec. 3.

During the public comment period of the Board of County Commissioners meeting, D’Amico brought up several issues concerning the property where the Olympic Music Festival once was held, now known as Concerts in the Barn.

“The last couple of weeks, we’ve been under pretty constant attack by an opposition group by the name of TRC headquartered at Concerts in the Barn in Quilcene,” D’Amico said. “They wanted to spill the beans on what they think we’re doing, and we’d like to show you what they’re doing.”

The property where Concerts in the Barn is held is owned by Alan Iglitzen and Leigh Hearon. Hearon is a member of the Tarboo Ridge Coalition and has spoken at public hearings in opposition to D’Amico’s proposed shooting facility, which is located about 1.3 miles from Iglitzen and Hearon’s property.

D’Amico asserted that Iglitzen and Hearon illegally constructed a bridge, had multiple unpermitted structures, operated an unpermitted commercial kitchen, and had fire safety issues, among other possible code violations.

“There are immediate life-safety issues,” D’Amico said, citing a post from the Concerts in the Barn Facebook page that showed photos of workers constructing a bridge “in one day.”

He also showed printouts of photos of the barn where the concerts are held as possible fire safety hazards.

“Joe does not have his facts straight,” Hearon said, adding that the bridge mentioned was permitted and had been approved by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and that Concerts in the Barn was regularly checked for fire safety. “I am not going to get into a pissing match with Joe D’Amico. I am concerned about what he is going to do on his property … the TRC is not out to get Joe personally.”

The Tarboo Ridge Coalition is a group of individuals, many of whom live in Quilcene, who have been vocal throughout the county’s process to create an ordinance on commercial shooting facilities. TRC board president Peter Newland said they are not headquartered at Concerts in the Barn.

“This is stop number one,” D’Amico said, indicating he plans to look into possible land use violations of several TRC members. “We’ll make our way over to Dabob Bay if we have to. We could come in every week with a new packet.”

Meanwhile, the TRC has been “monitoring” D’Amico’s proposed shooting facility, Cedar Hills Recreational Facility, with drones, and it has been conducting regular flights of the area since March.

After learning of the drone flights, Fort Discovery posted on Facebook that it “will need to fight fire with fire,” and added another post asking for “any information that you can provide on any of the board members.”  

Commissioners did not say whether or not they would look into D’Amico’s claims.

“I’m reminded today that we are seeing the underbelly of a complaint-driven regulatory framework,” County Commissioner Kate Dean said. “This is what happens when we rely on complaints to do regulation because it pits neighbors against one another. Let’s hope for some improvement in that system.”

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