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Johnsburg board says no to ATVs on town roads

— After 90 minutes of public comment by impassioned partisans on each side of the ATV issue, the Johnsburg Town Board voted 4-1 Tuesday, Aug. 21 against a proposed law that would have been a preliminary step to allowing all-terrain vehicles on certain town roads.

About 80 people gathered at Tannery Pond Community Center to voice their opinions. Several of them came from ATV clubs from outside the Johnsburg area. The crowd seemed fairly evenly split between those that supported the notion of allowing ATVs on public roads and those opposed.

Rusty Heath, an official from a Vermont-based ATV association that represents 22 individual clubs said that allowing ATVs on town roads could draw riders from outside the area to the town and be an economic boost.

“There’s plenty of revenue to go around,” he said.

But Irene Kohn, president of the Garnet Hill Homeowners Association that represents 100 homeowners in North River said her group opposed the plan.

“We don’t want to see Johnsburg transformed into an ATV mecca,” Kohn said, citing concerns about liability to the town and a potential negative impact on the environment.

Resident Lyle Dye said that ATVs have created a “catastrophic” safety issue on his road by tearing it up to the point that an ambulance or other rescue vehicle would have a hard time getting through.

Ann Morse, a resident of The Glen, questioned whether the letters and emails the town received in favor of the proposal came from town residents or from individuals living outside the area.

“You’re hearing from a lot of people who don’t live here and who don’t pay taxes here,” Morse said. “I hope you’ll take that into account.”

But not all of those in favor of the proposal were from out of the area. Hawk Millington who lives on Bird Pond Road said that the rights of local riders need to be considered.

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