Sportsman club wants pistol range, SSNW has indoor plan

By James Robinson of the Leader
Posted 9/7/10

With operators of two area gun ranges engaged in plans for expansion, shooting enthusiasts and those in need of firearms training may soon have additional options in East Jefferson County.

Joe …

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Sportsman club wants pistol range, SSNW has indoor plan

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With operators of two area gun ranges engaged in plans for expansion, shooting enthusiasts and those in need of firearms training may soon have additional options in East Jefferson County.

Joe D’Amico, president of Security Services Northwest, Inc. (SSNW), announced in an e-mail dated Aug. 25 that he is seeking $1 million in federal funding to build a two-story indoor shooting range. According to the announcement, D’Amico has proposed two sites: one in Jefferson County and one in neighboring Clallam County.

In addition, located just outside Port Townsend city limits, the Jefferson County Sportsmen’s Association (JCSA) operates a shooting range under a special long-term lease agreement with Jefferson County. According to Al Scalf, the county’s community development director, the club has filed a permit application with the Department of Community Development (DCD) to expand the range.

The JCSA gun range is located on 40 acres of leased county-owned land off of Gun Club Road, south of Port Townsend and near the Jefferson County Landfill. It is zoned “essential public facility.”

The club wants to add a 25- to 50-yard pistol range, expand hours on Sunday and open on Mondays to train police, Jefferson County Administrator Philip Morley told Jefferson County commissioners during an Aug. 2 briefing.

“They have submitted a permit application to DCD for expansion of the existing gun range,” said Scalf, adding that – “at the request of the courthouse” – Jefferson County will hire an outside consultant to evaluate the club’s request.

Morley and Scalf said the county plans to hire consultant Eric Toews to review the association’s permit application. Scalf hiring the consultant would assure an independent review, important when the applicant is a county employee or when the project is slated for county-owned property.

The JCSA gun club is considered to have an existing legal non-conforming use. Any changes to that historic use prompt county review.

“There have been issues with other non-conforming operations,” Morley said.

D’Amico’s SSNW – a private security company that leases private property near Gardiner in unincorporated Jefferson County – also has the status of a legal, non-conforming use. D’Amico has battled the county for five years on issues of non-conforming operations related to his existing shooting range. He says he has spent $800,000 on the fight. His case is currently before the Washington State Supreme Court on appeal.

D’Amico would not issue new details on his proposed indoor shooting range, including the possible source of federal funds. Much of the opposition to his shooting range has been based on the complaints of rural residents about the noise of gunfire, which an indoor facility would mitigate.

D’Amico shook his head during the Aug. 2 briefing while Morley talked to commissioners about wanting to ensure there is an independent review of the gun club proposal “to be sure we’re following our own codes.”

D’Amico questioned whether the sportsmen’s association would be subjected to the same grueling process he has been put through over the last five years. Specifically, he questioned whether the county’s environmental department would be evaluating lead issues on the gun club property.

“I had the Environmental Protection Agency come out on mine,” D’Amico said. “They’ve been trying to shut my range down for five years.”

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