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Town of Colton plans to rescind ATV law

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COLTON — Four months after adopting a local law permitting all-terrain vehicles on certain roads in the town of Colton, the Town Council plans to rescind the law next week.

Six Colton residents appealed the decision in October, causing the town to change course. Colton officials said the decision was made after consultation with Town Attorney Eric J. Gustafson and county officials. “The result was that it would be in our best interest to rescind the law,” Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger said.

The board will hold a public hearing at 6:45 p.m. Dec. 11 before the vote.

The petitioners who filed the appeal in state Supreme Court were Mary Jane Watson, Brian Parrotte, Jill Parrotte, James Ferris, Joann Ferris and Mary S. Rutley, all of whom live on either Route 56 or Cold Brook Drive.

On Friday, Ms. Watson received a copy of a letter from Mr. Gustafson advising the court of the town board’s decision. “The six petitioners were very happy with the decision to rescind the law,” Ms. Watson said. “I was not especially surprised by the decision because they were in violation of state law and they would have been encouraging ATV and UTV traffic on state Highway 56.”

“It was in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act as well as other things,” she said.

The local law was originally adopted on Aug. 14 during the town’s monthly board meeting.

The Article 78 appeal alleged that the town board failed to satisfy the statutory standards for opening town roads to all-terrain vehicles and also that the local law was arbitrary and capricious.

“It’s a wise decision on their part since it was clearly in violation of state laws. If they look at what was happening in Lewis County and they did their homework, they would have realized what they were doing wasn’t legal,” Ms. Rutley said. “I thought it was clear that the law was not legal.”

According to documentation of the group’s appeal, the board passed a local law in February 2004, opening 50 out of 55 miles, equaling 90.9 percent of town roadway, to ATV traffic.

Mr. Bulger said that he does not expect a significant reaction from ATV users in the area, partially due to the time of year the law is being rescinded.

“The public hearing is to notify the public that we have the intention of rescinding the law. I don’t expect any big response,” he said. “I don’t expect any reaction from the ATV users at this point in time. We are kind of in between seasons for that kind of stuff. Hopefully after the public hearing we can have the new law in place and it can withstand any challenge.”

In May, as part of a presentation at Colton-Pierrepont Central School, it was announced that the St. Lawrence County Multi-Use Trail System would be opening soon in Colton, Pierrepont, Parishville and Hopkinton and would soon run throughout the county and the north country.

Although the local law was passed with eight rules, conditions and restrictions attached to it, Mr. Bulger said that more areas of the law need to be looked at. “With the trails committee, there are a couple of items that will be looked at, in particular environmental areas. Then the town can look at the law and make some adjustments and have a new law that will be up for vote. I don’t expect that to take place until February or March,” he said.

Modifications included a restriction from using the ATVs between midnight and 6 a.m., the prohibition of riding on the shoulder on the designated roads other than on the travel “roadway” unless the person is bringing the ATV to a stop or has already stopped, and disallowing the operator to exceed 30 miles per hour.

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