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Proposed ATV ordinance advances in Upper Saucon Twp.

By Tom De Martini, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 09:46:27 PM CST
Upper Saucon Twp. Board of Supervisors meeting
UPPER SAUCON, Pa -

A proposed ordinance regulating the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATV's) in Upper Saucon Township will be advertised for possible adoption, with a final vote on the matter scheduled for April 14.

Upper Saucon Township supervisors, after hearing 40 minutes of sometimes contentious debate from residents, voted unanimously to advertise a draft ordinance that limits hours and areas where ATV's can operate legally.

The draft ordinance would limit ATV use to the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., mandate that operators shall not drive the vehicles within 150 feet of a residential home and places other restrictions for driving the vehicles near property lines and backyards.

Board of Supervisors Chairman, Stephen Wagner, said that the proposed ordinance is good for those who ride ATV's in the township, particularly in the Curly Horse development where regular complaints from residents prompted the call for action.

"The ordinance actually gives full permission for people to ride virtually wherever they want," Wagner said. "There's a good chance that this will prevent a private lawsuit. It's a way to give ATV riders the chance to keep riding and make sure neighbors can enjoy their property by taking very limited action."

Supervisors heard 40 minutes of public comment mainly from residents of the Curly Horse development, off W. Hopewell Road, where the majority of the complaints have emanated.

"The township needs this ordinance," said Patrick Price, a resident of Rolling Ridge Drive in the Curly Horse development. "A quiet and safe neighborhood is no longer quiet and safe. It's not about who has lived where and when. There's a need for sound reasoning and principle discourse. Abuse of the law is the problem."

Price said supervisors have been provided with videos of residents riding ATV's through the development. The videos are said to illustrate the noise made by the vehicles and the debris they spread in local yards.

Supervisors agreed that they have seen the videos.

"However flawed this ordinance may be, it's better than none at all," Price said.

Yet, resident Anthony Caruso said there has to be some give and take in the proposed ordinance.

"There's no teeth to it," Caruso said. "It's not going to restrict them from riding in those setbacks. We should step back and think about this, before it causes more headaches. Once in a while (other residents) are going to hear some noise."

Supervisor Dennis Brenner said he didn't like having to pass an ordinance to make neighbors co-exist.

But resident Peggie Sharrer told supervisors she was looking for fairness and argued that an ordinance governing ATV use is not needed.

"There have been four-wheelers and mini-bikes being ridden over there for 20 years," Sharrer said. "There are 5,040 households in the township and (the ATV's) affect three households and about a dozen. You don't have a majority of the township here. How will it be enforced?"

Wagner said he couldn't answer that question.

Township solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich said the draft ordinance was difficult to write and might be difficult to enforce.

"It's uncomfortable and I don't like them," Dimmich said. "But, we have police power behind the ordinance and I think it will hold up in a court."

In other business, supervisors canceled a scheduled Monday, Feb. 24 meeting, due to lack of agenda items.

Upper Saucon supervisors will meet again on Monday, March 10.