The Jan. 16 meeting of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners

click here for a link to a PT Leader article about this BOCC meeting, after youre done with your bacon.

At their Jan. 16, 2018 meeting, Jefferson County Commissioners Kate Dean, David Sullivan and Kathleen Kler sat up front with county administrator Philip Morley nearby. At issue was Joe D'amico's proposed weapon-tastic, super-duper, heavy on the firepower, training facility on 40 acres on Tarboo Ridge, a mystical forested area near Tarboo Lake. The gun range vs. the sweet mountain water. The Superior Court pews filled with 52-plus people. Patrick Sullivan, former Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader editor and current PR guy for D'amico, videorecorded with an iPad on a tripod. There were calls for a microphone, a scratchy mic, some grumbles.

On Dec. 18, 2017, Jefferson County had imposed a 1-year moratorium on modifying existing or establishing new commercial shooting facilities.

Here's what I know about D'amico: His name is pronounced in multiple ways; he sort of looks like a squirrel; he wore a fatigue-green coat with a patch on one shoulder to speak at the county commissioners' meeting about his business; kinda short; some of my friends don't like him; I get the vague sense he'd be a terrible neighbor.

"Because this was adopted as an emergency moratorium, state law requires a public hearing within 60 days," Morley said Jan. 16, of the Feb. 5 public hearing. Shooting facilities "perform an important and necessary function in our society of allowing people to practice." The Dec. 18 meeting was largely about whether to hire a mediator to work out a compromise between D'amico and the county, and how to involve the public. Morley also said after public comment, "Bringing other parties to the table I think would compromise the process. ... We're confident we will be following county and state law."

Public comment on Jan. 16, 2018, was mostly about the D'amico proposed gun range.

Phil Johnson had concerns about the proposed mediation. "I'm looking forward to the meeting, so citizens can make clear their feelings," he said. You were given a warning there'd be a general call-out, he said to the commission, "which reminds me of some sort of military movie." He urged them to listen most attentively to the citizens of the county.

Then some commenters opposed a pot processing facility on Marrowstone Island. David Anderson presented commonsense thoughts on a perceived violation, by the commissioners, of the appearance of fairness doctrine. The Appearance of Fairness doctrine, he said, dates from 1969, was over land-use issues, and often repeats the word "appearance." "We don't give a darn about marijuana. It doesn't belong in a residential area," he said. "The grower is on your commission," he said, which affects the credibility of your governing body, he said. He quoted PUD commissioner Ken Collins as saying at a Marrowstone Community Association meeting, "It doesn't pass the smell test."

Karen G of Marrowstone said some stuff about the view or something, then, "Take responsibility to protect our county." She asked commissioners to use their control over the Dept. of Community Development to "please put a moratorium on any marijuana processing in residential rural areas."

It is good to hear people say what they think, in public, where it counts.

Peter Newland lives on the west shore of Tarboo Bay and represents the Tarboo Ridge Coalition (TRC). "A copy of our concerns has been filed with the clerk," he said, and asked that the agenda item about the mediation proposal be postponed at least a week. "Everyone deserves better information an time to consider it," he said, also requesting all relevant parties to attend the mediation.

George Yount applauded mediation. "It is critical to all citizens of Jefferson County. This is an entire-county issue," he said; if we do not involve everyone, it'll be "our albatross."

Diane Johnson of Tarboo Valley said "mediation that occurs without all parties at the table does not work in the long run," and that mediation "has the potential to completely disenfranchise the citizens of the area and the county." She then read a few lines of Kitsap poetry by Michelle Bombardier, "Poems for Las Vegas."

An archaeologist named Mary had concerns about the size of the Brinnon "master-planned resort," which sounds like a fifth-grade urban-planning unit word. Negative impacts on shellfish beds were not considered then, or now, apparently. "Consider the health of the land and the water," Mary said. A Sierra Club representative named Sheila also commented about the Black Point development, its "impact on the land, water and wildlife," and the fact that a smaller golf course is still a golf course, and fewer units still have major impact. The Sierra Club is concerned about the impact on the aquifer, as well as sewage treatment, 4,100 extra cars, Hood Canal possibly suffering nitrogen "dead zones," and environmental damage to the Duckabush shellfish beds. "The Sierra Club North Olympic Group with 1,200 members believes that the project should not proceed," she said.

(Pause to ponder what it's like underwater, among dark, cold greeny-brown kelp beds in the brine off Brinnon, the unique ecosystems of Hood Canal, marine species choking for oxygen, poisoned by fertilizers, glittering blue vistas and the sound of not-that-distant gunfire, and lead seeping into Hood Canal from green hills rising around it.)

The next public comment Jan. 19 was from Peter Bahls of the Northwest Watershed Institute, who said "please hold off on any decision until the public has the chance to digest this." He meant about the Tarboo mediation. "It gives the appearance of rolling over" at the first sign of bullying. "People in Jefferson County don't want a private weapons compound."

James Fritz of Port Townsend bemoaned Trump's finger on the ol' red button. "All his life he's been programmed to do outrageous things. We need to demand rational conduct from our elected officials."

John Ebner of PT said he agrees with Newland. "The commissioners need to be extremely careful about whether or not, and how and when, they handle that proposal." It could interfere with the public's ability to make public comments, he said, on new shooting ranges in the city. "Delay until you have enough information to proceed," he advised, saying the moratorium has got the community interested, and started discussion about shooting ranges. He talked about the existing shooting range, the Jefferson County Sportsmen's Association, which has for decades been emitting annoying pow-pow noise off Jacob Miller Road, near the dump and the Humane Society and the Palindrome. "One is a commercial enterprise," he said, meaning D'amico's proposed facility. "The other is an educational and recreational facility managed by volunteers and costing the city nothing." County commissioners need to "take responsibility and expand their awareness," he said.

Last up to the podium that day was Joe D'amico representing Cedar Fort Cedar Discovery Fort Association Cedar Bay Systems Fort Northwest Ridge Shooting Systems Northwest, or something. "There's really nobody out on Tarboo Ridge," he said. "There is literally nobody there for miles around our facility." He challenged his hearers to "pull out a map and find the right place for our facility." He said, "we've pulled a well permit, we've done our pre-application. It's our position that we're vested."

After public comment ended, prosecutor Philip Hunsucker took the stage "to give the attorney's view of what mediation is and why." He said he read the letter the TRC sent. "The purpose of the mediation is to explore whether we can reach a path forward" and "avoid costly litigation," he said. "There is no requirement that either party reach an agreement."

Mediation is to be overseen by William Downing of JAMS. "Mediation is not binding and can be terminated any time by either party," Hunsucker said. "There seems to be a disconnect about the moratorium ... it's not about Tarboo, it's about commercial shooting ranges in the entire county." He noted population growth in Jefferson County, saying complaints about gun ranges in the county are made weekly. His goal, he said is for "commercial shooting ranges to be done in a way that makes sense." Regarding the "risk pool," he said, "we're talking about the county's money, period" and said, "mediation cannot be a substitute for the land-use permitting process." D'amico's Tarboo acreage is among Pope lands. Not Catholic Pope, tree-cutting Pope. This is Washington.

"The argument is that they're already vested," Hunsucker said of D'amico's claim. "The county would never use mediation to create new land use that circumvents city or state law."

By George, I think he's onto something with this "we can't break the law" thing! Here's an idea: You can't do illegal stuff, but you're allowed to hire as many consultants as you want, for whatever reason.

"FDC [fort discovery corporation] has the right to seek to develop the land that it owns as long as it complies with county and state law," Hunsucker said. He doesn't think other people should be invited to the mediation. "The dispute is between Jefferson County and FDC and for now that's what it ought to be." He said mediation would save the county money. "Litigation will cost the county much more."

"It was fascinating and invigorating to hear" all the public participation at the Jan. 18 Marrowstone Community Association (MCA) meeting, said commissioner Kathleen Kler. The MCA outcry against pot-process "in some ways mirror Black Point and Tarboo ... how to be neighbors, and their land use." She said, "there's a lot of looking to us to make the decisions," and that there can be "sometimes tense disagreements that help us." Is that, like, a meme from Facebook? Maybe she was reading her teabag quote.

Commissioner David Sullivan said "compromise can provide a degree of uncertainty that can be uncomfortable."

Commissioner Kate Dean said, regarding marijuana, that tax revenue has been "extremely disappointing to our county and every other county" in Washington.

Is it only the responsibility of county commissioners to decide when to refrain from decision-making, to avoid ethics violations and to be responsive to their constituents? Um, but who really cares if they roll over to powerful businessmen? Um.

As a topic, guns should come with a trigger warning. The second amendment is about overthrowing the government with an armed militia; about freedom to bear arms against a sea of oppressors, and by opposing, end them, right? So, what's up, Cascadia Risers? When are we gonna pull out those bleachers?

By the way, I wish our federal government would ease off on the military might. But that's like saying I wish Wal-Mart didn't sell so much cheap mass-produced shit, or I wish McDonald's didn't advertise to kids, and there weren't so many jerks or greedy fucks or creeps or total douches running around. It's like saying, I wish the people who could actually change things, and make the right choices, would. They do, sometimes, though. But still. So many fucking creeps! The one in the mirror's the worst!

Anyway, so, also, editor's note here, that when we talk about the county's moratorium on shooting ranges, we have to remember it's not about gun control, at all. It's about where do we build the new skatepark for gun nuts to skate around with their guns spraying bullets everywhere. D'amico doesn't want to open a public, nonprofit gun-nut park, though. He's probably aiming at the paper target: Money.

D'amico might be just another money-grubbing developer, squatting where he's not welcome, and so might the pot baggers, but I hate other stuff more, like the Master Planned Resort, i.e. Mr. Moneybags' Assholes' Retreat Condos (ARCs) in Brinnon. Landscaping at places like that is depressing. I fucking hate traffic on 101 already. Let's really help local families and stay the hell out, stop doing anything, stop building stuff for anyone over age 4.

Good old D'amico is probably going to get by by saying there's noplace better to locate this kind of facility in Jefferson County, and local people shouldn't have to travel to Everett or Poulsbo or Bremerton to practice shooting. Which is bullshit. I have to go to bremerton to go to a roller rink, or leave the county to go bowling. Other people should also have to leave to go shooting, if I can't even bowl. It helps reduce my aggression and makes me a safer neighbor! 

I'm not joking. D'amico seems to me like a horrible neighbor, and/or some John Grisham character who who just wants to make a shitload of money in gross ways.

Neighbors hate noise, crunchies hate lead, fish are turning over in their graves. Oh yeah and somebody could get shot by accident. More people want peace and quiet in the Tarboo Valley for human health and safety, for dog and raccoon and finch friends, clean dirt, water, healthy cedars, understory, mycelium, worms & mushrooms. I want that too. 

Seems reasonable to fear D'amico, the federal government and the state government and the county government, heavy metal tools for killing people. Hey D'amico:  go away! Find someplace else, even if you have to leave the county, because we're trying to save this one part of earth that is cool, so go shoot at something shitty, not anywhere near Tarboo Lake. A gun range doesn't belong in a wetland that's been the focus of preservation efforts for a long time.