A North Carolina-based security company is proposing to build an 824-acre firearms and tactical training facility on land that has been used for chicken and cattle ranches.
An application for the project by Blackwater USA is under review by the county Department of Planning and Land Use. The Potrero planning group voted 7-0 on Dec. 14 for early approval of the project.
Anne Tyrrell, a spokeswoman for Blackwater, said plans for the center, called Blackwater West, are in the early stages.
"We're examining options," she said. "It's the infancy of this process."
Blackwater's Web site describes the company as a "professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm" with five divisions, including a training center unit.
In March 2004, four civilian contractors for Blackwater were killed and burned by mobs in Fallujah, Iraq, with grisly images of their bodies shown around the world.
The company, with a 6,000-acre training facility in Moyock, N.C., is also considering building a center in Mount Carroll, Ill., about 120 miles west of Chicago, Tyrrell said. More than 50,000 law enforcement, military and civilian personnel have been trained at the North Carolina site, according to Blackwater's Web site.
Alyssa Maxson, a planning manager with the county, said Blackwater would have to obtain approval of an environmental report before the Potrero center could be built, a process that takes about two years.
Tyrrell was unable to provide details about the proposal for Potrero, which is about 45 miles east of San Diego. Blackwater's project application said the center would be used to train members of law enforcement, the military, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
Ten training areas would be developed in the southwestern and eastern portions of the site. Fifteen structures would be built. There would be 10 rifle ranges, five pistol ranges, an armory to store firearms and ammunition, four ship simulators and an urban simulation training area.
About 60 staff members would work at the center, which would serve about 300 students. Most students would stay in bunkhouses there for a week at a time.
A poultry ranch that operated on part of the land is now closed, but cattle still roam the area. Blackwater said in its application that cattle grazing would be able to continue there.
The proposed center was approved by the Potrero planning group Dec. 14 with the condition that noise tests be conducted to determine how far the sounds of gunfire can be heard.
The project is expected to return to the planning group as it moves forward.
Gordon Hammers, chairman of the group, said he would rather see a training center at the site than residential housing and the traffic it brings.
"It may be the best fit available," he said. "I think it's good for the community."
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Just what we do not need is the crazy making of war here in Southern California. Why is it that money talks so loud, there is no benefit to the citizens of the area, it is not bringing new revenue or jobs to the area. The land is better used as farm land, we need food not weapons. The Potrero Planning Committee have been seduced into believing this is in their best interest. I am wondering how many of them were enticed with favors and money? The military already have a training facility in that area, they take up a huge portion of the land with their military training. The sound carries for miles, the chopper activity, etc is heard everywhere. Country is there for peace and relaxation, not militia.
I am telling you this is not good for our county nothing good will come of it. The majority of military training facilities are already being converted into housing and shopping centers. Why use valuable land for this?
It is not economically sound.
NO!!!! Blackwater is the army of the S.P.P. why isn't there a massive outcry opposing this? because no one knows who blackwater is, their role in iraq nor their ties with the haliburtons and kbrs of the world. That has been kept from the average citizen who believes that the US military is doing anything other than protecting corporate employees and mercenaries. Please, if you read this, educate yourself and then others. This is THE worst possible scenario for san diego. How many other bordertowns are opening up training facilities? SPP.GOV is a good place to start.
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