SELECT BOARD SPECIAL MEETING
MARCH 24, 2015
The meeting was called to order at 7:30pm by Ted Crawford. Ray Tarbell and Tim Martin were present. The purpose of the meeting was to review the ATV Non-binding Opinion Surveys and Comments that were compiled on March 03, 2015. Ted asked people to raise their hands to be recognized and to be civil. Ted stated the summary of the surveys: 157 said ‘yes’, with 18 having comments (later corrected to 29) 196 said ‘no’, with 16 having comments (later corrected to 47) Ted read each of the ‘yes’ comments. The Selectboard Clerk read each of the ‘no’ comments. Ted then opened the floor for those in attendance to comment. (Note: these minutes are not intended to be a transcript of the meeting. I have tried to include many of the comments. If you wish to read/hear the comments, the surveys are available at the town office or you can view the LPCTV video of the meeting at their website.) Bruce Turco asked if the ordinance that the committee had prepared was available to be read. He felt that a lot of the ‘no’ comments didn’t seem to understand what was in the ordinance as proposed. It was not available.
Don Patch asked how often has the town had to repair highways due to damage by ATVs. Ray said he couldn't recall any. How many times has the town had civil action (lawsuit) due to ATVs? Ray answered none that he knew of. Ron
Unterman – The purpose of the survey was suggested by the attorney (who reviewed the ordinance) – to determine what the town really wanted before drawing up an ordinance. The purpose was to help you three to decide what the town wants before voting to proceed. The results were 55% to 45%. The town has made a statement of “don’t pursue”, not “figure it out”. Josh Griffin – 27 towns have an ordinance. I understand risk and caution, but apply it with common sense. Why would anyone come to Mount Holly to ride the roads when there are no trails to ride? The more towns that have an ordinance, the more a movement grows, the more acceptable it is and the liability goes down. Mary Alberty – representing herself, not SnoDrifters. SnoDrifters use ATVs with landowners’ permission to do trail work and we do cross roads. I have seen out of staters on Tiffany Road, on VAST trails and they have turned around when asked to. Would this be for residents only? Or others? The ordinance proposed stated landowners, residents and guests.Carl Mitchell – Liability is the biggest concern. Does the town have a fund for defending lawsuits? The ATV manufacturers do not set them up for road use. Have you consulted a lawyer for liability? Is there an extra insurance policy? Answer: the town does have a general liability policy, not specific for ATVs. The Board will investigate thru the town’s insurance. Ron U. noted that the attorney was concerned about liability in the notes of the meeting, though it was not mentioned specifically in the letter he wrote. Steve Yaskell – what if no permission is given, but someone rides on the land anyway; is there liability? (Later someone stated that there is no landowner liability unless a fee is charged to be on the land.) Peter Berger – In a general election, you can’t have two winners. In the opinion survey, you might be able to have a compromise that works, that meets the needs and concerns of the town. Ted Crawford noted that due to Open Meeting Law, the Selectboarrd members cannot discuss things outside of a meeting. He had come down to the town office to read the survey comments and felt that many of them were based on hypotheticals. He would like to make the decision based on actual experience. He stated he had been thinking about this since before the election and then read a proposal for a trial period of ATV use on roads that he would bring up at the next meeting. (A copy of the proposal will be attached to the minutes). The proposal suggests a trial period of May 15 to October 12 (just prior to the Selectboard meeting) to allow any resident or landowner of Mount Holly to ride their ATV on town roads for the purpose of going from point A to point B (one private land to another). There were a number of restrictions, including age (16 or older), valid driver’s license, 7am to 7pm, speed limit 15 mph and others. The trial could be terminated at any regular or special meeting of the Selectboard, and ATVs will be on the agenda every month from June thru October.
David Burnor (?) – State law doesn't allow a trial basis? Ted will follow up on that. Craig Tomkinson – What you propose flies in the face of the opinion survey results. Those were the voters of the town saying no. Bruce Turco – Many people weren't handed the survey. (Minga Dana later noted that people were asked if they wanted the survey and some said no. That’s why there were fewer surveys than voters in total.) I heard people were talking about the survey in the town office and called Sue Covalla to stop it. Riding on the roads is being done illegally now; we need to enforce the law now. Annette Lynch – Would it be reasonable to get hard data on ATV usage before a trial period? Ted noted he had looked at what data was available and it is teeny (60 deaths since 1980-something). Kathy Leber - This is an unenforceable law or proposal. We would need a team of people to go to with complaints. Nancy McKeegan – lives at the top end of Frost Hill. This is not hypothetical. Have had near misses with ATVs and snowmobiles in my car every year, and have ended up in a ditch twice. In an accident, I’m likely to kill somebody. Maryanne McGee – If we have a trial period, I’ll probably be calling every day. They are now constantly on my road (Tarbellville) and property. I’m also concerned that people who really need to use an ATV are able to use it. Abe Leber – have we stopped anybody on the roads now? Yes, State Police and Game Wardens have. How many times? A few said they had been stopped. Mary Alberty – ATVs have a license plate on the back, much easier to see than sticker on snowmobiles. Don Richardson – Here’s a factual event on Healdville Road from Monday afternoon a week ago. An ATV was ahead of me, did a 180 quickly and drove directly at me. By the time he passed me at full throttle, he was in excess of 50mph. When I came back through later, the ATV was parked at a property on the road. There is no way a plate could be read at that speed. No helmet on the driver. And yes, I reported it to the constable. Don Patch – when the committee did a survey, most people did not report problems. If there is a problem, call the constable, let him do his job. Ron Unterman – The problem with taking down a license number or knowing where the ATV is, there is no such thing as a citizen’s arrest. I have been told by police (on another matter) that they can’t do anything unless they see it. Enforcement is a major issue. Bob Herbst – wanted to confirm that this trial period is only a thought, it is not in place yet. The Board confirmed it is not in place; would have to be voted on at the next Selectboard meeting. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned by motion made, seconded and approved, at 8:29 pm. Respectfully submitted, Rhonda Rivers Minutes are DRAFT until approved at a Select Board meeting. Approved on: __________________