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Lewis legislators approve ATV road openings near Constableville

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County legislators on Tuesday approved opening 4.8 miles of county roads near Constableville to all-terrain-vehicle traffic, despite one lawmaker’s concern of overly extensive road usage in the trail system.

Lawmakers passed five separate laws opening segments of Byrons Corners, Highmarket and Mackay roads to ATVs by identical 9-1 votes.

“There’s a whole lot more roads than there are trails,” said Legislator Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, who cast the dissenting votes.

A couple of lawsuits challenging past county ATV road openings are also still pending, and judges’ decisions in those could potentially raise new legal questions for the current proposal, he said.

Legislator Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden, said that Clifford White from the Highmarket Wheelers ATV Club has added off-road trails to an initial plan rejected by lawmakers last summer and eliminated a proposed road-to-road connection from Byrons Corners Road to Highmarket Road with no off-road trail in between that was the main legal issue. Mr. White also plans to keep going back to landowners in hopes of reducing needed road mileage in future years, he said.

“I think we stand a lot stronger case,” Mr. King said.

While it would be nice to have resolution in the court cases, the county shouldn’t be hamstrung while waiting for them, Legislator Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, said.

“I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong,” he said. “I know it’s following the law as we see it.”

Mr. Hathway added that the West Turin road openings could always be rescinded if court rulings show legal deficiencies with them.

He also mentioned that the roads being opened are not exactly heavily trafficked and that Mackay Road is a gravel thoroughfare.

“It’s not like you’re going down (Route) 812 or something,” Mr. Hathway said.

Legislator John O. Boyd, D-New Bremen, noted that county Highway Superintendent David L. Becker had given the openings his “seal of approval.”

“Economically, it’s going to help our area out,” Mr. White said at the start of Tuesday’s meeting.

County legislators last week added 11.1 miles of off-road trails in the town of West Turin to the county’s ATV system, with the county road openings intended to connect some of those.

However, the plan would still rely on more than 22 miles of town roads, which must still be opened by the West Turin Town Council, to navigate around the Highmarket area.

Mr. White thanked legislators for their support in the matter and promised to continue working to develop more off-road trails in his area.

“I keep doing trails, so it’s not like you open these roads and I’m going to stop,” he said.

Gordon J. Belair Jr., a retiree from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department who now lives in the town of Montague, expressed concern that some ATV enthusiasts tear past his Tug Hill home.

“I know it’s a minority, but we have an awful lot of them up there,” he said.

Mr. Belair said he is not against ATVs or snowmobiles but that enforcement issues should be better addressed while new roads and trails are being added.

“There’s baggage with it,” he said. “There’s good and bad.”

Past legislator and Chairman Bruce R. Krug, a noted opponent of the county’s ATV trail system, submitted a letter in opposition to the new road openings, as well.

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