On Tuesday, lawyers representing Jefferson County, and the Tarboo Ridge Coalition met to present information to the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board to decide how the county should proceed regarding county ordinance 12-1102-18. Depending on their decision, the ordinance may or may not allow for a large, military style gun range to be built on the north shore of Tarboo Lake.
The county’s main two arguments centered around concerns involving second amendment rights, and a potential lawsuit over loss of income value to property owners. However, Tarboo Ridge Coalition’s counter arguments, which included their contention that title 8 of the Jefferson County code may or may not be a development code, but that title 18 of the JCC certainly is a development code, and therefore does regulate land use.
When discussing the ways that a gun range, by its very nature, is sure to destroy a forest lands, Alex Sidels of Brickland and Neuman said “If ordinary free market forces were enough to protect forests, we wouldn’t need the GMA” Most of the ways a gun range differs from other, less invasive uses of a forest, center around the necessity to remove the very trees that make up a forest. Buildings aren’t trees. Parking lots aren’t trees. And a wide open, flattened area for target practice is not trees.
Mr Sidel also pointed out that loss of potential land use value is not a strong argument when it comes to GMA and land use concerns. There are other considerations which must come into play.
Quilcene resident Kitt Kittredge is particularly concerned with the planned military training “The military has thousands, millions of acres of our public lands already that they can train on. All over the country, all over the world. They don’t need to come into a public area that is surrounded by national forest, national wildlife, private land, BLM land, or state land, and privately held forest land to do their training. They have plenty, and in my opinion I’m not supportive of the military at any point, so they have more than enough. So I am very opposed to any military training in any area, particularly in this very pristine, quiet area, that is honored by tourists, environmentalists, farmers, forestry folks. It’s not the place to implant a large training ground for military.”
Keith Meyer, also of Quilcene, is concerned that the proposed gun training facility will severely affect land values, as well as impact the environmental impact on the land.
The decision is due on July 17th, and will be available on the Growth Management Hearing Board’s website the next day. http://www.gmhb.wa.gov/