LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders shelved proposed regulations restricting ATV use in Lincoln after a strong showing of all-terrain-vehicle enthusiasts during a Town Council meeting on Monday.
Councilors had tacitly approved of the proposed ordinance during their meeting on Feb. 14, offering no changes, but that support evaporated quickly in the face of about 50 residents, most of whom opposed the fledgling law.
A motion to enact the regulation died without a second, said Councilor Samuel Clay, the meeting’s acting chairman with Chairman Rod Carr out of state performing in a musical competition.
“Since our last meeting [Feb. 14] we have had time to dissect it, look over it and do our research,” Clay said Wednesday, “and going into this meeting most everyone that spoke [against the ordinance] had good points.”
The ordinance would have prohibited ATVs in areas where structures are less than 200 feet apart over a distance of a quarter-mile; on public roads with speed limits of 35 mph or greater; and on several roads where Public Works Department Director David Lloyd and former Police Chief Scott Minckler have said they would be a safety risk, according to Town Manager Lisa Goodwin.
Those include Bagley Mountain, Phinney Farm, Town and Sweet roads; Buckley and Penobscot Valley avenues; and Frost Street, Goodwin said.
Goodwin, Minckler and Lloyd wrote the proposed ordinance in accordance with Maine Department of Transportation guidelines and with direction from the town’s attorney and councilors, she said.
Members of the Penobscot Off-Road Riders ATV Club said the regulation, if enacted, would significantly diminish statewide ATV trail access through Lincoln, and the revenue such access would bring to town merchants.
The club, members said, has assembled a 68½ -mile trail network, which plugs into statewide ATV trails and helps create a revenue stream for town merchants which rivals that found with snowmobiles, except that ATVs can ride almost year-round. It has tried for years to build the network in town, failing in a 2009 effort to run a trail over Bagley Mountain Road.
Other residents complained that the ATVs represent a threat to public safety for other vehicles and pedestrians and are also a noise and pollution nuisance. This is particularly true, some residents say, on Buckley Avenue, over which club members have tried to run a new trail that would help ATV riders get over railroad tracks that run parallel to West Broadway.
Councilors on Monday realized, Clay said, that the regulation would cut off ATV access to areas where no complaints have been made, such as Half Township Road.
So they agreed Wednesday to form a committee of residents, ATV enthusiasts, snowmobile club members and councilors that would try to broker a compromise. Their goal: to create more off-road trail opportunities, Goodwin said Wednesday.
The committe will be formed during the council’s next meeting on April 11, Clay said.