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Controversial private military, law-enforcement training center approved for Ocotillo

December 21, 2010 | 10:39 pm

Octillo A controversial private military and law enforcement training center planned for rural Ocotillo was approved Tuesday by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors.

The facility, proposed by San Diego-based Wind Zero Inc., was approved on a 4-1 vote. The lone dissenter was Supervisor Jack Terrazas, whose district includes the land the facility will be built on.

The $100-million, 944-acre training center would include shooting ranges, live-fire training houses, a commercial racetrack, a heliport and an airstrip. Some residents of the town and county have lobbied against the project since it was first proposed in 2006, arguing that the facility would disturb the peace and quiet they cherish and deplete the city’s underground aquifer, its sole source of water.

Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL sniper and founder of Wind Zero, told The Times earlier this month that the facility will provide a needed training site for local law enforcement and the military, as well as bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the cash-strapped county;  in October, Imperial County's unemployment rate hit 29.3%.

Howard Kelly, a Vietnam vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, lives across the street from the project site and was concerned that the noise from the facility would make living there unbearable. He and his wife plan on moving away from their home of 23 years now that the project will be built.

“I just don’t believe that the supervisors really listened to the concerns of their constituents,” Kelly said.

Webb could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


Desert town up in arms over proposed military training center

-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Vietnam veteran Howard Kelly, here with wife Bev, opposes the training center. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times