Berne should put ATV plan on ballot

To the Editor:

On Feb. 8, 2023, Berne will hold a public hearing concerning its proposed law allowing ATVs on all town roads [“Some Berne residents question ATV bill, public hearing set for February,” The Altamont Enterprise, Jan. 13, 2023]. This hearing will be held under the guise of searching for “public input.”

It will have the look and feel of any other one; however, to hold a public hearing means absolutely nothing if the people holding the hearing already have their minds made up and it’s just another hoop to jump through so they can say that they listened to the public.

In fact, they can listen to whatever part of the hearing they like. If they hear something that supports their recommended law, they can just focus on that and say “we heard the public” and proceed with the law. They will probably make minor changes just to send the point home that they “listened” but, in the end, it will all be just for show.

The off-road vehicle community will most likely have plenty of people of all ages attending this meeting. Many will get there early, perhaps bringing their ATVs and dirt bikes to illustrate their position. There will probably be people from outside the community, saying that they will come up here and spend their money at restaurants and gas stations.

There will be plenty of local opposition too; however, because of the advanced lobbying and promotion, I’d suspect that there will be more riders from outside the area at the hearing to show support because of this lobbying campaign to support the law. I’d even suspect a motorsports shop owner or two and someone from the Tug Hill area will be there to speak on the benefits.

All of the comments you’ll hear are essentially scripted and I could probably list them all right now.

This law proposal will create a “significant adverse impact” to the community, regardless of what is determined by the board, from the year-round noise impacts until late at night, to erosion, to roadway safety, and trespass.

Since this proposed law has been discussed, I have seen and heard more ATVs blasting down the local roadways. The hum of the tires in my quiet neighborhood can be heard from at least a half mile away — and clearly there are mixed messages as to the use of off-road vehicles on roadways.

Pretty much all manufacturers’ warning decals say that they should not be used on roadways and are not safe to do so. I can only imagine that the town, and taxpayer money, will somehow be part of a lawsuit after the first death.

If the board members actually cared about what the public wants, they would place it on the ballot as a vote for all Berne residents; otherwise, this hearing is just a sham and the board will pass the law after some discussion and minor edits.

Mark Hohengasser


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