Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club, which owns a shooting range on Seabeck Highway, remains in contempt of court for failing to apply for permits to repair environmental damage and bring the range into conformance with land-use rules. In a 2-1 decision issued Tuesday, the Washington State Court of Appeals upheld the contempt-of-court order imposed by Pierce County Superior Court, an order that prohibits shooting at the range until the club addresses ongoing land-use issues. The legal dispute dates back to 2011, when Kitsap County sued the gun club over construction work at the shooting range. Judge Susan Serko of Pierce County found that the club had constructed new shooting lines, removed vegetation in a wetland buffer, diverted a stream into two 475-foot culverts and excavated soils on the property, all without required permits. After numerous court hearings and a reversal of some sanctions by the Court of Appeals, Serko gave the club 180 days plus an additional 90 days to apply for permits to bring the property into compliance with county codes. At the end of that period, the judge granted a motion for contempt of court filed by Kitsap County’s attorneys.
The ruling effectively shut down shooting activities at the range until the club could obtain approved permits — although the Court of Appeals has ruled that the contempt-of-court citation must be lifted when the club applies for the permits. Since then, a major issue has been whether the club has the financial means to even apply for the permits. Considering the cost of consultants needed to complete the documentation, applying for permits would cost more than $45,000, according to club officials. Marcus Carter, executive officer for Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club, said he has tried to work with Kitsap County officials, but they have thwarted his efforts to reopen the shooting range, which has been mostly closed for nearly four years. [full article]