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Durham's Conservation Commission Considers Strengthening ATV Ban

Motorized vehicles are prohibited from the town's open space properties but enforcement of the regulation has proved to be a challenge.

Durham's Conservation Commission Considers Strengthening ATV Ban

 

Durham's Conservation Commission is hoping to put some teeth into the town's ban on ATVs.

Open space regulations already prohibit motorized vehicles from town owned properties but commission members said the ban has done little to prevent people from accessing those properties and causing extensive damage to them.

"I don't think most people driving ATVs care if there's an ordinance or not," said commission chairman Robert Melvin.

Durham resident Charles Ingold appeared before the commission Tuesday night and said ATV riders continue to access the Curtis Woodlands property near his home on Salted Lane.

"They recognize only their own laws, so this needs to go to a level higher than me," he said.

Ingold said he feared that riders were close to creating a "racetrack effect" on the property and asked the commission to post signs to warn riders about the penalties of violating the open space regulations.

Under the regulations, violators can be fined up to $200.

The commission agreed to install signs at all of the town's open space properties and discussed several alternatives to fences and concrete barriers which have be ineffective in stopping ATV riders.

"They just go around it," a commission member said.

The town's conservation officer has responded to complaints but catching ATV riders in the act has been difficult.

"They've just wreaked havoc. It's amazing," said commission member Bill LaFlamme.

Melvin wondered whether the town should adopt an ordinance similar to one approved in Middletown, which specifically bans ATVs on all public property and requires permission from private landowners.

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