An Ordinance on Restricting the Discharging of Firearms is being heard by the County Commissioners

Author:Cliff Howard

The Norcliffe Homeowners Association is attempting to get the Island County Commissioners to enact an ordinance that allows for the restriction of the discharging of firearms on private property through a petition process. This will not just affect the property surrounding the Norcliffe subdivision it will eventually effect anyone who may wish to use their private property in a safe manner to target practice.

The petition by the Homeowners Association supplies no facts that this is dangerous or a “reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized”* and this is the problem with this type of oridinance. Using this petition method the State law allowing for restricting of firearm usage due to safety concerns is nullified along with the use of the sherrifs department and experts to determine the safety aspect and places that in the hands of people who merely do not like the noise and signs a petition stripping us from the protections of the existing State laws.

Currently the Island County Code only allows for restrictions when there is evidence that the discharge of firearms “disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors.” Or that the discharge of firearms is unsafe.

State Law only allows for the restrictions on the discharging of firearms when:

*(a) Restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized. Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others.

This new ordinance is in response to a previous complaint made by the Norcliffe Homeowners Association against a neighbor who has a private shooting range that they are attempting to stop the operation of. You can read the previous Island Politics articles on this subject here and here.

No matter that in the case of the Norcliffe homeowner the neighbor has taken steps to make sure that his private shooting range is safe and the sheriff has inspected his shooting range and deemed it safe on several occasions. This is a clear case where a small group of people living in a housing development with covenants and bylaws wishes to extend those covenants and bylaws onto neighboring properties even though there is no evidence that there is any danger caused by this neighbors shooting range.

Below is a link to the request made by the Norcliffe Homeowners Association which attempts to allude to the fact that because there was covenents and restrictions on their property when they purchased it that there must be something inherently dangerous and a safety concern about the discharge of firearms in that area.

Norcliffe Property Owners Petition

The following laws currently govern the use of Firearms in Island County:

County Noise Ordinance  9.60.030 Public Disturbance Noises

Washington State Law RCW 9.41.300 Weapons prohibited in certain places — Local laws and ordinances — Exceptions — Penalty

Below is an e mail sent by Bill T. that really sums up the the issue:

Hunter, Shooting Enthusiast, Defender:

Please read the attachment. The Island County Commissioner workshop meeting Wednesday, November 21is expected to consider a proposed ordinance to establish a petition procedure for citizens to request commissioner action restricting the discharge of firearms within a specified area. Consideration of this item of business is “expected” to occur during the afternoon session as there are several actions scheduled for morning consideration.

 This action resulted from neighborhood residents adjoining an unplatted area where the owner has created a private range complete with berm, and bullet box, in heavy woods submitting a complaint petition. The neighboring owner/shooter evidently only shoots hand guns and small caliber rifles at the range. Earlier this year the Island County Sheriff inspected the site and determined that the range was a safe shooting facility.

 The ordnance addition proposed by (Outgoing!) Commissioner Homola has serious present and future ramifications for all gun owners in Island County, including the danger that should it be adopted, the commissioners would replace the sheriff in deciding gun safety issues. Additionally, it presents an incursion on property rights.

 Although public testimony will not be received, it is IMPORTANT that those interested in preserving gun/shooting rights attend. Please forward this to other Island County shooting enthusiasts requesting their attendance. (The “other” side will be there.)

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5 comments

  1. avatar

    Voter-ousted Commissioner Homola has established a well-documented history of supporting these kinds of petitions by small, special-interest groups and thus negatively effecting ALL Island County residents for unjustified reasons.

    Homola’s record of doing so extends back all the way to the time right after she took office, when she JOINED with Commissioner Price-Johnson and they together INSISTED that Island County lower the speed limit on West Beach Road from 50 to 40 mph along a short stretch of road directly adjacent to Homola’s OWN HOME. Their direction to Island County was based solely on the insistence of a persistent small group of Homola’s OWN neighbors whose driveways led directly onto West Beach Road.

    Attempts by the very same group of Homola’s neighbors had been turned away for a previous DECADE before Homola took office. Previous Boards of the Island County Commissioners are on record for an entire DECADE explaining to these residents that the county roads are for everyone and that your choice to live where you live was not a reason for them to act.

    Data from Island County showed that the actual issue along that road was that some people were people speeding – not the posted speed limit:

    See: West Beach speed debated
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/22098879.html

    (Related to that article: I live precisely where those folks say was the biggest alleged SAFETY “problem” existed, (i.e. “at the top of the hill in the Even’ Down area”) and I had REFUSED to sign the ludicrous petition that these folks had touted around our neighborhoods door-to-door).

    When Homola took office, instead of keeping enough sheriff’s deputies around to enforce the laws to dissuade people from illegally speeding on county roads, Homola switched tactics, to NOISE being the alleged issue along West Beach Road, and thus she and Price-Johnson pushed through Homola’s speed-limit lowering agenda for her neighbors and herself.

    My favorite quote: ““We all know the worst part about living out there is road noise,” said Jerry Homola, husband of County Commissioner Angie Homola.”

    See: Disputed speed limit cut likely on West Beach Rd.
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/53047782.html

    Eventually, not only was the speed limit lowered along that stretch of West Beach Road, but Homola had solar-powered radar detectors installed north and south of that area near her home:

    See: angies speed trap 001
    http://youtu.be/hp44wQ9MoeM

    In this present-day case of The Norcliffe Homeowners Association, no laws are being broken, but , again, SAFETY is being misleadingly touted as the justification for imposing upon other people and respecting their rights and chosen lifestyle (i.e. choosing to target practice upon private property in accordance with all already-established laws).

    I fully expect Angie Homola to pull out the SAFETY panacea yet again, just she did when she made what is lively the MOST ludicrous and statement of her four year tenure:

    “Without this marine patrol and reconnaissance force on Whidbey, I FEAR more emphasis will be placed on increasing the Growler platform which clearly has greater NOISE impacts on our residents and PARTICULARLY SCHOOL CHILDREN” wrote Island County Commissioner Angie Homola, in an emailed statement. ” (capitalization emphasis added by me).

    See: Hope remains for base Poseidons
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/116687149.html

    So, I would fully expect Commissioner Homola to make similar arguments in this case involving the Norcliffe Homeowners Association.

  2. avatar

    This requires a call to action for ALL firearms enthusists and defenders of the second amendment to attend upcoming Commissioners’ meetings to voice their disapproval of such nonsense.

  3. avatar

    A few observations and comments:

    Regarding the election, I understand that Ms. Homola carried no precincts in her own Commissioner District 2 in spite of the fact she “dutifully responded to the fears of both Norcliffe Subdivision residents and the residents of an adjoining similar subdivision on the north side of the private range property.

    I believe I read, may have heard, that when an Island County Deputy Sheriff’ reported to the Homeowners Association that the range was safe, he was asked if he could guarantee that no one would ever be hurt because of the range and he correctly declined. When Ms. Homola reduced the speed limit on west beach road was the county road engineer asked if he would guarantee that at 40 MPH no one could be hurt?

    Readers, expect this ordinance to pass. It will be Ms. Homola’s last shot (I hope) and Ms. Price-Johnson will remain in form, belittling the comments of Commissioner Emerson and making a difficult decision based on the importance of safety though she strongly supports the 2nd Amendment, because as she uttered a few months ago, “I am a member of a gun range myself”. (Just like she’s a “successful business operator”?) Regardless of what the the Homola/Price-Johnson regime approve, there’s a new commissioner coming aboard. Let’s take this one all the way beginning with Wednesday’s commissioners workshop!

  4. avatar

    I live in Greenbank with my husband on 5 acres. We are quiet neighbors in a generally quiet area. Each summer, several times lasting 5 to 7 days, our neighbor directly behind turns his property into a party, campground and race track for 4 wheeler vehicles, going all day long into the night. I won’t even mention the barking dogs, it’s the screaming 4 wheelers, several, going ALL day for days on end. I wonder if I have any rights at all regarding this? I have not been able to talk to this neighbor as it’s a vacation, party, racetrack getaway, and there were SO many people there 2 weeks ago, approaching him in front of all his friends was not a comfortable option. Is there a noise ordinance that is a reasonable compromise for all? Please advise. Thank you.

    1. avatar

      You can view the Island County Noise oridinance at the counties website, it is under TITLE IX PUBLIC PEACE, SAFETY, AND MORALS and it is copied below.
      http://islandcounty.net/code/CountyCode.htm

      If your neighbors are making noise after 10:00 PM this may be something that you want to address with the sheriff although that may not be good for the relations with your neighbor. I would talk to your neighbors and see if there is anything that they can do to quiet themselves down at least in the hours of 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM which our code states as the time that similar noises are not allowed. Maybe they would invite you to the party? I know it is tough dealing with noises such as this but your neighbors actions seem to be within the laws ( Note: I am NOT a lawyer!) and people do have property rights that allow for all sorts of noises between 7 AM and 10 PM. Sometimes the best thing to do is have a chat with your neighbor and see if there is anything they can do to help the situation. Calling the sheriff would be the absolute last resort for me and I do know that they may not be aware of how they are disturbing you or that it is such a big issue with their neighbors. I always try and approach issues like this with a jar of homemade jelly in hand to kind of break the ice and not be confrontational but I do believe that a nice non confrontational chat with them is always a good thing to start with and the jelly certainly helps. Your neighbors may be like a lot of us in that they are clueless as to how their actions bother others. Good luck with this. Let us know how it turns out.

      The ICC states the following:

      9.60.030 Public Disturbance Noises
      A. It is unlawful for any person to cause, or for any person in possession of property to allow to originate from the property, sound that is a public disturbance which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors. The following sources of sound when they unreasonably disturb or interfere with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors shall be prohibited public disturbance noises:
      1. Frequent, repetitive or continuous noise made by any animal, except that such sounds made in animal shelters, or commercial kennels, veterinary hospitals, pet shops or pet kennels licensed under and in compliance with ICC Titles 16 and 17 shall be exempt from this subsection; provided, that notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, if the owner or other person having custody of the animal cannot, with reasonable inquiry, be located by the investigating officer or if the animal is a repeated violator of this subsection, the animal shall be impounded by the county animal control officer subject to redemption in the manner provided by ICC 6.08.170;
      2. The frequent, repetitive or continuous sounding of any horn or siren attached to a motor vehicle between the hours of ten (10) p.m. and seven (7) a.m., except as a warning of danger or as specifically permitted or required by law;
      3. The creation of frequent, repetitive or continuous noise between the hours of ten (10) p.m. and seven (7) a.m. in connection with the starting, operation, repair, rebuilding or testing of any motor vehicle, motorcycle, off-highway vehicle or internal combustion engine on Residential and Rural Residential zoned property;
      4. Frequent, repetitive or continuous yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing, between the hours of ten (10) p.m. and seven (7) a.m.;
      5. The creation of frequent, repetitive or continuous sounds which emanate from any building, structure, apartment or condominium, such as sounds from audio sound systems, band sessions or social gatherings;
      6. Sound from motor vehicle audio sound systems, such as tape players, radios and compact disc players, operated at a volume so that it unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors;
      7. Sound from audio equipment, such as tape players, radios and compact disc players, operated at a volume so that it unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors; and
      8. Sound created by the discharge of firearms during evening and nighttime hours between one-half (1/2) hour after sunset and one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise except for discharge on authorized shooting ranges.

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