Government

Somers' ATV Code Likely to Remain Unchanged

An all-terrain vehicle (ATV), also known as a quad Credits: Stock Photo/Metro Creative Connection

SOMERS, N.Y. – Whether they love ATVs or loathe them, most everyone agrees they’re noisy critters. So in Somers last week, it was no surprise that those all-terrain vehicles generated sustained, often passionate sounds in a packed meeting room of the Elephant Hotel.

For more than an hour, elected town officials heard a range of views on both the ATV, or “quad,” as fans affectionately call the four-wheeler, and possible loosening of a key ATV restriction, adopted in 1984. Some two-dozen speakers addressed the board, making clear their support or opposition to the code change. And while the board took no official position at Thursday night’s meeting, its five members later made clear there will be no change in the code.

“The code hasn’t been amended nor will it be, based on the input we got,” Supervisor Rick Morrissey said this week.

Sign Up for E-News

The board’s four councilmen also opposed revisions in Chapter 160, which regulates ATV operation.

“The law really doesn’t have to be changed,” Councilman Anthony J. Cierico said, expressing a view that prevailed in separate interviews with his fellow councilmen.

As a utility vehicle, proponents point out, an ATV can make short work of tedious chores like lawn mowing and raking, snow plowing and salt-spreading. But in its sportier configurations, critics contend, young operators—some of them even pre-teen—are known to mount these motorized steeds for high-speed hijinks on homemade racecourses and public roads. Along the way, some residents complain, the ATVs introduce indiscriminate dust, dirt and noise into nearby homes or backyard gatherings.

Looking to mediate the opposing views, perhaps by amending Somers’ ATV regulations, the town board invited residents to talk things over Thursday night. More than three-dozen accepted the invitation, filling the seats and standing along the meeting room’s back wall. Under the current town code regulating ATVs, operators must keep 1,000 feet of real estate between their vehicle and a neighbor’s home. That strict standard effectively outlaws quad running—even on their own land—for all but a handful of Somers property owners, one resident, a lawyer, noted.

“We’re effectively banning ATVs in the town of Somers,” Joseph Vinciguerra of Londonderry Lane told the board. To avoid violating town code every time he plows his driveway, the attorney said, he hoped board members would cut in half the legally required separation between neighbor and vehicle, setting the new distance at 500 feet.

But that’s not likely to happen. Thursday’s discussion had been billed as simply an opportunity to obtain residents’ input. But a post-meeting survey of board members found no enthusiasm for tinkering with the letter of the law. Instead, most of the board said, residents could rely on police discretion to distinguish between lawn-mowing, driveway-plowing operators and nuisance joyriders.

“I think we have to give our police—and I’m comfortable with giving our police—the discretion to manage this,” Cierico said. “And they’re doing a good job.”

Councilman Thomas A. Garrity agreed. “We’ve never had any complaints, or written any tickets, for someone who’s been using an ATV to plow their driveway,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never had complaints about using one to work in the back yard.” No one, he noted, “joyrides a tractor or joyrides a lawn mower.”

On the other hand, he said of an ATV, “We’ve had complaints when people use it to joyride either in the streets or on their own property.”

Councilman William Faulkner said that based on the meeting discussion, “I’m also inclined to not amend the current code. The majority of people do not want a change. And of course, we want the majority to rule.”

Like his fellow board members, Councilman Richard Clinchy sees no need to change the code as it now stands. While saying he’s open to being persuaded otherwise, Clinchy added, “You’d have to convince me that there’s a public good [in scrapping the current restrictions].”

Proponents of a more-relaxed ATV code see both public and personal good coming out of such a change.

For one, a 500-foot separation standard would make far more ATVs code-compliant, said Alycia Forbes. The mother of three lives on 7.5 acres off Route 202 but told the board even that much property did not allow her to meet the 1,000-foot separation standard. “You pretty much have to own 22 acres in order to comply with the law,” Forbes said. Indeed, she calculated, using town assessment figures, less than 4 percent of Somers’ property owners have enough land to run a code-compliant ATV. 

Another mother, Amy Leahy, lives on Macaulay Road in South Somers. She said that in addition to providing much-needed help in the maintenance of her two acres of land, the ATVs have had a positive impact on her children, ages 12 and 14. “We’re not doing enough for our young people,” Leahy, a teacher, said. “And these quads have done such a fabulous job with my kids. It has taught them respect, responsibility and safety.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Somers

Fun Moments to Remember

When my grandchildren were very young they were convinced I was magic. Not only would my friend, Aurora Dawn, the tooth fairy, write them letters every time they lost a tooth, but I, myself, could make miraculous things happen.

When Shanna and Adric, my daughter Lisa’s twins, were 2, they stayed with us one summer while their parents and big brother Chris went on vacation. We had a rash ...

When It Rains, It Pours

Remember when it used to rain “cats and dogs” and you might step into a poodle? Well, those days are over. It never just rains anymore. Instead we have “weather events,” which sound like something fun that you could show up for with a folding chair, a pair of binoculars and some potato chips. I don’t know whether this is due to climate change or the rampant hyperbole ...

Thanks, Ol' Blue Eyes!

A few weeks ago on a Saturday evening, son Paul and my lovely daughter-in-law, JulieAnne, took me to the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center to see “Echoes of Sinatra.”

To say I loved the performance is an understatement: It was over the top and certainly brought back many memories! Tribute artist Frankie Sands was featured along with the Tony T. Orchestra. It was big band era from ...

Why Smart People Get Stuck When Organizing

“I didn’t go to college to learn how to organize!”  “If I’m so smart, then why can’t I do this!?”  “I used to be organized, until I had kids!” That’s what people tell me when I meet them for the first time. Usually, these feeling are expressed with some frustration and bewilderment. 

There are a couple of issues at play ...

The Importance of Reading to Your Baby

Dear Dr. Linda,

I have a 3-month-old baby and have been reading to her from the day she was born. My husband has dyslexia and I’m concerned that she may have inherited it. Will this prevent it?

Madison

Dear Madison,

I wish there was a guarantee that your baby wouldn’t inherit her dad’s “reading gene” but there isn’t. Whether she has a genetic ...

Get Your Gig On

It’s understandable that when people see empty storefronts, they infer it’s the mark of economic malaise. It is not. What’s not taken into account by jumping to that conclusion is that times change, marketplace dynamics change, shopping habits change.

Consumers are spending money, all right, just in different places and in different ways. A storefront that made sense in past ...

One More Doggone Diet

“I caught the dog looking at himself in the full-length mirror today,” I said to my husband. “I think he’s feeling a little self-conscious about his thighs. And he’s worried about putting on weight over the holidays.”

“The dog is worried?” my husband asked.

“Yes, he's noticed that he’s put on a few pounds since Halloween and he ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4fb08b9241797e087f00_murphy-to-host-first-annual-hudson-valley-turkey-trot

Thu, November 23, 8:15 AM

Yorktown

Hudson Valley Turkey Trot

Health & Wellness

Fri, November 24, 8:00 PM

WCT - Westchester Collaborative Theater, Ossining

WCT presents "Fractured Family Tales"

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, November 25, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Confessions of a First-Time Political Candidate

November 19, 2017

Over the course of the last five months, I have had the privilege to campaign for a position on the town board. I never ran for political office prior to this and I looked forward to the uphill challenge of campaigning as a Democrat in the Republican stronghold we call home.

From the very beginning, many friends and neighbors questioned why I would attempt to run for a position that has been ...