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by Ann Weston
Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2009 at 10:41 PM
A private company, the Procinctu Group, has received approval for a “Blackwater-like” warfare training facility in Homeland, CA dubbed “The Ranch,” including shooting ranges, driving tracks, and live-fire training. The site is situated next to an established church retreat in a residential agricultural area that the developers say will be perfect for training because it looks “like Afghanistan.”
March 16, 2009
Citizens Groups to County Supervisors:
Pull Approval of “Blackwater-Like” Warfare Training Center in Riverside
Local Veterans and Political Groups Pass Resolutions Opposing Private Military Training Center
Protest Planned Against Procinctu's Plans to Build Mercenary Training Center on Tuesday, March 17 at 8:30 a.m. at Riverside County Center
SPECIAL GUESTS: Tom Swann, Exec. President and Founder, Veterans for Peace of the Inland Empire, and Ray Lutz, Founder Citizens Oversight Group who helped successfully battle Blackwater facility in San Diego County.
WHERE: Outside the Riverside County Administrative Center, at 4080 Lemon Street, Riverside, CA 92501
WHEN: 8:30 to 9:30 AM, Tuesday March 17, 2009
Protest outside Riverside County Administrative Center
10:00 a.m.: Protesters will move inside to express concerns to Riverside County Board of Supervisors general meeting during Oral Communication
RIVERSIDE, CA (March 16, 2009) – A private company, the Procinctu Group, has received approval for a “Blackwater-like” warfare training facility in Homeland, CA dubbed “The Ranch,” including shooting ranges, driving tracks, and live-fire training. The site is situated next to an established church retreat in a residential agricultural area that the developers say will be perfect for training because it looks “like Afghanistan.”
This past week, Veterans for Peace of the Inland Empire, Democratic Central Committee of Riverside, and the San Bernardino County Peace and Freedom Party, voted to oppose the effort to establish a military training facility in Riverside County.
“Military veterans like myself are very unhappy that civilian contractors doing military functions,” said Tom Swann, founder, Veterans for Peace of the Inland Empire and a Marine Corps Veteran. “Civilian contractors do not abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and have different guidelines about torture and rules of engagement when dealing with unarmed non-combatants and whether unlawful orders are obeyed.”
“Everyone should stand up against such warfare training projects that now are sprouting up everywhere,” said Bob Hamilton, former candidate for the 49th Congressional District, which includes the Procinctu project. “Our regulatory infrastructure is not prepared to oversee paramilitary training camps that may even be illegal under our existing law.”
“The zoning itself does not allow a private paramilitary training center, and the zoning was not changed,” said Ann Weston, a resident of Menifee near the site of the project and a founder of Citizens Against Private Armies. “This project absolutely does not belong in this quiet rural and residential setting, within earshot of an elementary school. These homeowners never expected to live next to warfare training facility, and it violates their property rights. We must stop it, and we will.”
“They're not Blackwater, but there's no guarantee they won't quickly cash-out to Blackwater,” said Raymond Lutz, founder of Citizens' Oversight Projects Committee, one of the organizations that led the successful battle against Blackwater in Potrero, San Diego County. “The California penal code, section 11460 makes paramilitary organizations illegal. These training camps are only a hairsbreadth away from being criminal.”
Procinctu means “gird for battle – prepare for war.” Protesters claim the project does not meet the criteria for a Public Use Permit (PUP), does not meet noise ordinance standards, and was improperly approved in January 2008, sidestepping the normal environmental impact report (EIR) and public review. However, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved it, bypassing normal processing and improperly approving fast-track processing. Construction could start soon.
The zoning is for educational institutions, government uses, hospitals, homes for the young and elderly.
John Choate, president of Procinctu and former NAVY Seal, claims the proposed facility is both a public institution, and an educational institution. Neither of these claims is true. The Procinctu Group is a private for-profit organization, not a governmental or public institution, and not subject to oversight by the public.
Roland Skumawitz, Superintendent of Romoland School District wrote in a letter to the Riverside County Planning Department in 2006, "...a second proposed K-8 school site is planned... approximately 1,160 feet from the tactical training center. As you know, the California Department of Education requires a 1,500 foot buffer zone from property line to property line for elements of this kind. The center's location would jeopardize the District's and the developer's ability to site the [proposed] Trailmark school."
If it were indeed an educational facility, it would not be incompatible with other educational facilities. Therefore, waiving the noise ordinance was improper, and the granting of the Public Use Permit was therefore improper, and avoiding public input and jeopardizing the future Trailmark school was improper.
A letter found in the public records, dated 3-08-07, regarding the Fast-Trac k application from Supervisor Marion Ashley to the Board said that the Planning Department upon further review "deemed that a Public Use Permit was the most appropriate land use for this development project." It continues, "The PUP…is not eligible to receive Fast Track Authorization under the current Fast Track Policy Guidelines. Therefore, in order to assist the applicant in expediting the land use and permit process approval, I am recommending that Fast Track status be granted to this project." Opponents to the project assert that Fast Track approval, bypassing thorough public and environmental review, was improper.
Also found in the public records were PROPRIETARY PAPERS titled “Naval Special Warfare Group One,” a technical proposal (June 30,2006). In the report, three instructors are from Blackwater USA (now renamed “Xe”).
Please contact for attachments, etc. from Public Records, PUP885.
Citizens Against Private Armies (CAPA)
Ray Lutz, Coordinator
Citizens' Oversight Projects Committee (COPs)
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