Jefferson Planning Commission recommends turning down gun range - but not before three-commissioner walkout
By Evan Cael, Peninsula Daily News
October 20, 2007
CHIMACUM, WA - A majority of Jefferson County planning commissioners will recommend that the county commissioners shoot down Security Services Northwest's proposal to rezone 40 acres in Gardiner to relocate its gun range.
The planners' vote did not come easily at a meeting Wednesday night - and not before three planning commissioners walked out of the Chimacum High School auditorium, and the remaining five had to wrangle for the opportunity to vote.
Vice Chairman Bud Schindler tried to block the vote.
He was acting as chairman because the commission chair, Peter Downey, recused himself for having the same Discovery Bay landlord as Security Systems Northwest President Joe D'Amico.
Reading from a written statement, Schindler pointed to four technical errors he believed the commission had previously made on the issue that would prevent a vote, primarily the wording of a motion made by Planning Commissioner Patricia Farmer on Sept. 26.
Farmer had moved to take the vote up at a later date because a vote at the Sept. 26 meeting had inadequate support to either approve or deny a recommendation to move the shooting range.
Schindler said Farmer's usage of the word "reconsideration" in her motion prevented the vote from being taken at Wednesday's meeting, citing a book the Planning Commission uses to guide the order of its meeting, called Robert's Rules of Order.
"As a result of these violations of order, it is my decision as the presiding officer of this assembly that the final vote taken at the meeting of Sept. 26 stands and that the message going forward to the [Board of County Commissioners] on this issue will be 'no recommendation,'" Schindler said.
The county commissioners will make the ultimate decision whether to approve Security Systems Northwest's request by Dec. 10, tentatively holding a public hearing on the issue Nov. 26.
Although Schindler's statement was supported by Edel Sokol and Mike Whittaker, the other planning commissioners at the table did not react so warmly to his prepared statement.
"Bud, you are not qualified nor authorized to make that determination," Werch said, adding, "hanging on a single word is just wasteful and petty, and I underscore petty heavily."
'It is wrong'
Farmer believed the issue came down to right and wrong.
"It is wrong that our vice chairman can read a statement and say 'this is it' without any discussion," Farmer said, adding: "If the Planning Commission wants to vote on it, we have a right to vote on it."
When Schindler and Sokol insisted the issue was closed, referring to Robert's Rules of Order, Farmer said in an aggravated tone: "I don't care what rule you show me."
Planning Commissioner Ashley Bullitt didn't believe Schindler carried the last word on the rules of the meeting, even as acting chairman.
"I am glad Bud brings his opinions to the meeting, however they are just his opinions," Bullitt said, adding that she believed he was "unilaterally hijacking the meeting on the basis of [his] own personal opinion."
"That's not Democracy," she said.
To break the deadlock, Bullitt moved to override Schindler as chair and appoint Bill Miller as temporary chair.
The motion passed with Bullitt, Farmer, Werch, Miller and J.D. Gallant voting yes.
And then they voted
The vote foreshadowed the one that took place moments later to recommend to the county commissioners that Security Systems Northwest's proposal be denied.
While commissioners were voting, Schindler, Sokol and Whittaker walked out of the room in protest. They never voted on the recommendation.
Karen Barrows, Jefferson County Department of Community Development long-range planner, said Thursday that a record of the entire proceeding leading up to Wednesday's vote will be forwarded to the county commissioners for consideration - not just the recommendation to deny the proposal.
One person missing from Wednesday's deliberations was D'Amico, the Security Systems Northwest owner.
"I was working, so I didn't have time to attend," D'Amico said Thursday.
D'Amico reiterated the purpose for seeking to rezone 40 acres in the hills above Gardiner to relocate his shooting range: to attempt to mitigate noise for his neighbors who regularly complain about the sound of gunfire coming from his current range a half-mile from the western shore of Discovery Bay.
"I can attempt to do the right thing and try to work with the folks, and if they don't want to look at a proposal to move it back two miles in the woods, we'll stay right here," D'Amico said.
"Security Services is grandfathered, right here, not we think we're grandfathered, not we might be grandfathered - we are grandfathered."
On Thursday evening before dark, a police dispatcher again was forwarding complaints of gunfire coming from Security Services Northwest's Fort Discovery range.
Reporter Evan Cael can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: October 18. 2007 9:00PM