Shooting range moratorium moving ahead

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 2/20/18

Jefferson County’s moratorium on modifying existing or establishing new commercial shooting facilities is continuing, with a revision to accommodate noise testing.

The Jefferson Board of County …

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Shooting range moratorium moving ahead

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Jefferson County’s moratorium on modifying existing or establishing new commercial shooting facilities is continuing, with a revision to accommodate noise testing.

The Jefferson Board of County Commissioners did not need to take any new action to allow the one-year moratorium to continue, but it did vote unanimously Tuesday, Feb. 20 to adopt an amendment clarifying that the moratorium does not prohibit noise-testing events.

The amendment also establishes a procedure for such noise tests to be approved by the director of the Department of Community Development (DCD) 30 days in advance, after consulting with the directors of Environmental Health and Public Works, as well as the prosecuting attorney and sheriff.

The amendment further stipulates that the DCD would approve such noise-testing plans on the condition that those plans yield useful data about possible noise impacts that could be used by the review committee.

Commissioner Kathleen Kler noted that, with existing facilities such as the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association shooting range, the public objections have centered around perceived changes in intensity of noise, which makes such noise testing valuable.

Chief Civil Prosecuting Attorney Philip Hunsucker said the amendment does not require another hearing because the ordinance adopted by the commissioners on Dec. 18, 2017 allows for modifications of the moratorium.

Kler and fellow Commissioner Kate Dean agreed that many of the comments they received seemed to have lost sight of the original issue of the moratorium itself.

Kler even suggested that several commenters had not read the moratorium, which itself acknowledges the need for gun training within the county.

Dean regarded the most persuasive comments as not being “either pro- or anti-gun control,” but instead coming from “people who own and love guns, and see the need to practice firing them, but still want to see them regulated.”

County Administrator Philip Morley reported that the review committee has received 12 applications to date. The committee would have the task of studying the safety, environmental and land-use impacts of commercial shooting facilities and reasonable measures to address those impacts. A draft shooting facility ordinance for existing and new facilities would then be forwarded to the planning commission or the board of commissioners after the review committee had reviewed it, according to a Feb. 20 moratorium memo.

Joe D’Amico, president of Fort Discovery, is currently working with the DCD to establish a new facility he calls Cedar Hills Recreational Facility, which would include shooting and archery ranges, near Tarboo Ridge.

On Jan. 16, Jefferson County commissioners unanimously approved a mediation agreement with JAMS, an alternative dispute resolution provider, to provide mediation services for the county and D’Amico regarding D’Amico’s Tarboo proposal and the moratorium’s impact on it.

While D’Amico remains opposed to the moratorium, which he sees as targeting his business specifically – “It’s the Joe D’Amico moratorium. There’s not hundreds of applicants. There’s just me” – he nonetheless expressed support for the noise-testing amendment.

“It’s a good thing,” said D’Amico, who sees himself as a vested applicant. “It might even help to calm the fears of folks around any proposed or existing facility.”

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