Dust clouds raised by ATVs choke farm fields, crops, ponds, and people

To the Editor:

Supervisor [Dennis] Palow and Deputy Supervisor [Anita] Clayton have introduced the most damaging risky law ever in the face of Berne. Many residents have not even heard of their plans to modify the livelihoods and lifestyles of our residents.

Local Law #1 of 2023 will certainly degrade your quality of life here on the Hill to appease a small special interest group of ATV gangs. The law was discussed last week at the January town board meeting as covered in The Altamont Enterprise  [“Some Berne residents question ATV bill, public hearing set for February,” The Altamont Enterprise, Jan. 13, 2023].

The law is the brain-child-ego-trip of Berne Planning Board Chairman Joe Martin, who indicated at the June 8 town board meeting, after it was said that Lewis County issued 30,000 permits, that he would like to see a permit system for Berne. I was at that meeting, and Joe presented his draft map, which listed essentially every town road in Berne, over 40 of them, except Councilman [Thomas] Doolin’s …

Palow, Martin, and Clayton have produced zero data, research, or environmental review of said law — none. They’re ready to drop the gavel before even listening to you.

The noise created by these underpowered motors revving at high speeds and the growl of the knobby tires can be heard for miles away, long before the dust created by the gangs as they zip by your home, farm, or business.

The noise is unique and unnerving; your core reacts immediately with a gut reaction of: Something is wrong, something’s not right, what the hell is that? Then your ears and chest follow it, as it grinds and growls, echoing through the hills for miles.

The dust cloud generated on our gravel roads chokes farm fields, crops, ponds, and people. The cloud of road dust is blinding and disorienting to the riders in the rear of the pack. This blinding effect can be fatal.

My partner Scott’s brother was killed by it, on a sanctioned club trail ride with the club from Nassau/Averill Park. My brother killed himself on an ATV when he was in his early 20s; these machines are fatal.

Every national ATV association, club, and manufacturer prohibits use of these on roads. Is this board willing to assume all risks?

The dust cloud then resettles on top of the road surface to be washed into the ditches and then our freshwater ponds. If you want to see this result, I’m happy to show you 100-year-old ponds on my farm, reduced to 12-inch mud pits.

Our blueberry fields have been choked out by the road dust settling on the leaves, in spite of our planting recommended dust barriers of mature pines.

If Berne residents were the target market for permit sales, say 25 percent of residents own ATVs, that's approximately 500 permits at $30 each, totalling $15,000. That’s three-quarters of 1 percent of the monthly average spending of this board.

Joe Martin wants, and needs, to sell thousands of permits to reach an economic model of scale. At what cost? Selling an unlimited number of ATV permits to 10 times the population of the town will cost us road maintenance, signage, and the sign pollution that comes with it.

Diversion of CHIPs [the state’s Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program] funding from highways to maintain trails will cost us too.

Other towns have tried this and are now pulling back because of the above mentioned issues and endless lawsuits (more costs).

Please voice your opposition to this heinous law.

Tim Lippert

Friends of Partridge Run


Editor’s note: Timothy Lippert is a former building administrator for Berne.

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