Tarboo Ridge Coalition asks county to open process on Fort Discovery


The Tarboo Ridge Coalition, in a letter signed by Peter Newland, their legal and government affairs chairman, has asked the Jefferson County Commissioners to end it’s mediation agreement with the Fort Discovery Corporation and open all documents related to it’s previous negotiations.

It is clear at this point, with the determination of the Growth Management Board that the County ordinance that was the outcome of this secret negotiations was a failure on behalf of the Commissioners, that something must change. While they may have gone along with their legal guidance in doing this, it’s time to call it what it is and take a different tactic. The county, instead of simply assuming that Fort Discovery would sue, forced the citizens of this county who are fighting the proposal, Tarboo Ridge, to sue. This contributed to an appearance of favoring the proposal by Fort Discovery, who, as the letter below states, “The fact that the corporation is continuing its practice of building without permits while the County fails to restrain the illegal construction or issue stop work orders works an impossible hardship on the public’s trust and confidence in the fairness of its government.”

I have included the letter in it’s entirety below. The Olympic Peninsula Environmental News supports the ideas conveyed in this letter. It’s time to change tactics at the Commissioners meetings, and accept that there is no easy way out of this mess. Stop putting the opponents of this project at a disadvantage. It won’t help resolve this. The goals of this corporation appear to be at odds with the goals of the County  and the majority of it’s citizens, given the actions that have taken place.  Hard decisions must be made, regardless of the consequences.

 


October 8, 2019

Jefferson County Board of Commissioners The Honorable Kate Dean, Chair

RE: Preparations to comply with GMHB Final Decision and Order Dear Commissioners,

On January 16, 2018, prior to any hearings or officially adopting a moratorium on shooting range permit applications, the BoCC entered into a mediation agreement with Fort Discovery Inc., ostensibly to discuss how the moratorium might affect the corporation’s nascent concept to build a shooting compound near Tarboo Lake.

As Jefferson County prepares to draft a new shooting range ordinance, TRC respectively requests that the BoCC terminate Jefferson County’s mediation agreement with Fort Discovery Corporation and release all the documents and records related to it.

You’ll recall that, as allowed by law, TRC asked to observe but not participate in, the mediation. Our request was summarily denied and thus began 20 months of secret discussions between Fort Discovery officials, the county Deputy Civil Prosecutor, and occasionally other county representatives. In nearly two years of mediation meetings the parties have yet to appear before the mediator.

Numerous meetings between the parties were held behind closed doors throughout 2018 while the (now invalid) ordinances were being written and while the BoCC was holding public hearings and receiving testimony. Public Records Requests for minutes and other records of those private meetings have yielded hundreds of pages of documents, nearly all with redactions-many pages are almost totally blacked out. The County claims the documents are the work product of ”preparing for mediation” and thus eligible to be shielded from public review.

However well-meaning the County’s intentions were, the goal of avoiding litigation was not successful and the secret meetings have tainted the process with the stigma of favoritism.

The stigma is exacerbated by Fort Discovery’s history with Jefferson County. The fact that the corporation is continuing its practice of building without permits while the County fails to restrain the illegal construction or issue stop work orders works an impossible hardship on the public’s trust and confidence in the fairness of its government.

As we begin anew, the public interest is best served by a full understanding of the facts. Closed­ door meetings with Fort Discovery officials should not be allowed to taint the redrafting of Title 8 and 18. The GMHB has given our community a second chance. We urge the BoCC to clear the air and start the redrafting process on an open, trustworthy, positive path.

2 Responses

  1. “it’s” appears twice in the first sentence. The possessive pronoun “its” would be correct in this usage. The apostrophe is used for the missing “i” and the space in “it is” which does not work in this application. Not trying to be snarky, just figured I’d mention it since it’s bound to come up again in future posts. Respectfully, your ex-proofreader friend Nancy.

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