PITTSBURG — Town meeting voters in three of the state’s northernmost towns overwhelmingly defeated or delayed petitioned warrant articles to ban all-terrain vehicles from town roads.
Town clerks in Pittsburg, Colebrook and Stewartstown said attendance at the town meetings was up significantly because of the ATV-ban articles.
In Colebrook, voters rejected the ban by a vote of 52 in favor to 227 opposed.
In Pittsburg the vote was 54 in favor to 166 opposed.
And in Stewartstown, voters tabled the ban article by a vote of 92 in favor, 26 opposed.
Wayne Frizzell, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said he was grateful to voters for supporting ATV riding, which he and the chamber believe is a driver for the economically-challenged North Country.
He acknowledged there are “problem areas” that need to be addressed in the relationship between ATV riders and the public, adding he looked forward to productive community discussion.
This year’s articles, like a similar one in Stark last year, were all advisory since, by state law, only boards of selectmen can dictate use of town roads. But they reflect resistance ATVs are encountering in some parts of Coos County, which is home to the 1,000 mile interconnected trail system known as Ride The Wilds.
In Gorham, people who live near a RTW trailhead have sued the state and their town to move or remove it, citing noise, fumes and dirt that they say reduce property values and affect their quality of life.
ATV supporters counter that the state’s Rooms & Meals taxes have taken off in the North Country since RTW opened in 2013, and that sales of properties along the trails have also increased.
Communities like Gorham and Berlin, among others, have opened some local roads to ATVs to ease access to the RTW trails and to encourage riders to spend money locally.