Uzi submachine guns spitting rounds into an embankment, cars screeching around turns to evade terrorists, kidnaping plots sprung on unsuspecting American military brass and executives.
That's the vision J. Peter Minogue has for a patch of land in Stafford County, where he wants to teach people counterterrorist tactics-which he says could be a growth industry for the largely rural Virginia county on the southern edge of the Washington metropolitan area.
Minogue, who says he has eight years of counterterrorist training, wants to open a 100-acre "security training facility" in industry-hungry Stafford, about 45 miles south of the District. The facility would have a three-quarter-mile oval track for evasive driving training, a weapons demonstration range and a plant that would equip cars with armor plating.
But a number of Stafford residents and some officials say they are not certain that what Minogue's firm, JPM Inc., calls a "low-profile educational facility" is the type of industry their county needs.
"I believe in the military, I believe in training," says the Rev. David M. Messick, pastor of the Fredericksburg Assembly of God Church. "But if we're talking about shooting on Sunday morning, I won't try to preach over that."
"JPM just kind of reminds me about that old skeleton joke," says Ellis Bingham, another county resident. "There's just not much to it."
That's not the way Minogue views the proposal. "This is not a situation where World War III lets loose," he says. "We're not going to get out there at three o'clock in the morning and start bombing runs or crashing cars."
Minogue, a former race car driver who has conducted counterterrorist training in South and Central America and Europe, cites increasing threats to American businessmen and military officers abroad as justification for the Stafford facilities and says its offerings will make it "the most up-to-date program" of its type in the Washington area.
Such promises have left many Stafford residents unmoved. About 100 people turned out for a public hearing that lasted until early yesterday to blast Minogue's request for a special use permit and urge the board of supervisors to reject it. The board scheduled a decision on the plan for Dec. 18.
Nearly 20 speakers took the microphone to say that Minogue's plan was a fine one, but couldn't he do it elsewhere?
The residents voiced concerns that the firing range would be a hazard, that the driver's training would be noisy and that nearby properties would be devaluated if the center is allowed to operate.
Speakers also objected to using the 100-acre site, which is zoned for agricultural use, for industrial purposes such as armor-plating vehicles. One speaker, perhaps in a slip of the tongue, called the facility "a terrorist training center."
Residents presented county supervisors with a petition bearing more than 700 signatures calling for the plan's defeat, and county officials said after the hearing they thought the board may have been swayed by the opposition to the training center.
Minogue, who said he has no military experience, said that the center would offer four-day and one-day courses. He said he would expect about 200 students in the first year of operation.
He stressed that the facility would be operated safely, and said he was willing to abide by a series of county recommendations on safety standards for the weapons demonstration range.
The facility would generate $12,000 in property taxes annually for the county, Minogue said, as well as up to a dozen jobs and indirect business for nearby firms.
Minogue said he has already received contracts from the government, although he would not identify his clients specifically. He said "99 percent" of JPM's clients would be "senior American executives of Fortune 500 firms operating abroad," senior military officers, law enforcement officers and professional drivers.
"These are reputable, legitimate groups of people," he said. "There are problems out there in the world [and] Americans need this kind of training."