By Neal Rentz
Several Somers residents came to the March 9 town board meeting to debate whether the town board should make it easier for residents to use all-terrain vehicles on their properties.
Under current town law ATV and other limited-use, off-road vehicle use is banned within 1,000 feet of other homes because of the noise made by ATV engines.
The town board is considering a change to Chapter 160 of the Town Code which would make exceptions to the Chapter 160 of the Town Code. The amendment would state, “The operation of any motorcycle, limited-use motorcycle, snow blower or limited use off-road vehicle, with or without written permission, within the setbacks applicable to the zoning district in which the property exists unless the operation of the same within each prohibited area is exclusively for farm, agriculture or snow and ice removal purposes.”
Donato Caruso was among several residents who said town law regarding the residential use of ATVs and other all-terrain vehicles should not be changed. If the town board allowed additional ATV use on residential properties it would be “a slippery slope,” he said.
In a letter to the town board, Caruso outlined several reasons why town law should not be changed. ATVs could throw off pebbles and stones that could endanger others living in the area; clearing forested land to allow ATV use could pose an environmental threat because animals and birds would leave the town because of the noise, Caruso wrote.
Another resident, Adam Stone, said the noise from ATVs negatively impacts the “peace and tranquility” of residential areas.
But some other residents said the law should be changed to make it easier for ATVs be used on residential properties. Alycia Forbes, who called on the town board to change the law to allow her children to use ATVs on her property last year, said ATV use is barred on her land because her home sits on a seven-acre parcel. A home would have to sit on at least 22 acres of land to be exempt from the town law on ATV use, she said. Only 21 residential properties in Somers are 22 acres or larger, she said.
A date for when discussion of residential ATV use would be back on the town board agenda was not announced. “We have some work to do,” Supervisor Rick Morrissey said.