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Gun club suit delayed, new judge assigned

The building rights lawsuit Olympic Sportsman’s Club filed against Kitsap County was delayed last Friday because the petitioner’s attorney was on vacation.

The preliminary hearing, which was moved to Sept. 7, has been assigned to Judge Anna Laurie.

Laurie generated significant criticism two weeks ago following her ruling on the Bremerton police dog shooting. In response, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge threatened to prevent Laurie from hearing any future criminal cases.

It is unknown whether that pledge extends to civil cases as well.

The lawsuit filed by the club is effectively an appeal of a prior Kitsap County Board of Commissioners decision which barred the club from building a multi-purpose outdoor shooting range in the vicinity of Bear Lake.

The issue began around this time last year when the club’s developers filed paperwork announcing their intention to apply for a conditional use permit.

County staff rejected the claim because they said the county zoning codes did not permit a shooting range of that type in that area, which is largely zoned interim rural forest.

Residents of the Bear Lake/May Ranch area are vehemently opposed to the club, citing safety and traffic concerns. There are also concerns an active outdoor shooting range would have a negative effect on local wildlife and impact the rural nature of the area.

The $3 million proposed complex has trap and skeet shooting, a 50-meter pistol range, a 200-meter rifle range and a clubhouse with classrooms. It will also offer a small RV park and other amenities to those who make the club a destination spot.

The matter has been heard and appealed through the county planning commission, the county hearing examiner and now the county superior court. Developer Phil Canter has pledged to go as far as it takes to get permission to build the club.

“I don’t care if it takes a year; I don’t care if we go to court,” Canter said. “We are going to find a place for a new home (and) it’s one of the best sites in Kitsap for it.”

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