Police Plan Enforcement Crackdown On Illegal ATV Use
Newtown Bee, 3/30/2006
By Andrew Gorosko
In response to continuing complaints from the public about the noise nuisance posed by the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and light motorcycles known as dirt bikes, police plan to launch an enforcement campaign against riders who violate state laws, focusing their efforts at the D'Addario Sand & Stone Company Inc's surface mine at 9 Button Shop Road in Botsford.
Police Sergeant Douglas Wisentaner said this week that police have received complaints from property owners near that sprawling surface mine who say the use of ATVs there poses a continuing noise nuisance, damaging their quality of life.
The D'Addario mine lies east of South Main Street, west of Little Brook Lane, north of Botsford Hill Road, and south of the town landfill. The mine is bisected by the east-west Button Shop Road. Most illegal use of ATVs and dirt bikes occurs on weekends in the section of the mine lying south of Button Shop Road, police said. At times, approximately 20 vehicles are illegally in use there, police said.
The riders sneak onto the property from various points along its border. One of those illegal entry points is a small clearing in a thicket along the east side of South Main Street, near Kay Lane.
Besides entry points near roads around the mine, some ATV riders enter the mine from the Housatonic Railroad's right-of-way that borders the mine, police said. That rail line extends into Monroe.
Sgt Wisentaner said that with the coming of mild weather, police plan to increase the enforcement of ATV violations, especially at the D'Addario mine.
Police met with a representative of the mining company and state officials last week in planning their enforcement campaign. D'Addario representatives could not be reached for comment.
Typical rider violations include simple trespassing, which carries a $92 fine; simple trespassing on railroad property, which carries a $136 fine; and failure to register an ATV. Unregistered ATVs may be impounded by police in certain cases.
State law on ATVs lists a variety of violations, Sgt Wisentaner said. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has enforcement power for certain ATV violations, he explained, adding that DEP plans to aid police in the enforcement project.
Police plan to personally inform people living near the mine of the enforcement project, he said.
"It's been a problem for a long time," Sgt Wisentaner said.
Although police receive ATV usage complaints from other parts of town, due to its large size, the D'Addario mine receives the heaviest ATV use of any place in town and generates many complaints, he said.
Besides local riders, the mine attracts out-of-town riders, who sometimes approach the mine riding their ATVs on the railroad right-of-way, he said.
Police, who drive large sedans on paved roads, are physically limited in how they can pursue ATV violations, he said. At times, when police spot ATV trailers parked at places where ATV riders enter the mine, they simply wait until the riders return to their trailers to issue them tickets.
Most riders whom police apprehend are people from out of town who have left their ATV trailers along the edge of the mine, Sgt Wisentaner said.
The illegal use of ATVs poses several law enforcement issues, the sergeant said.
It is a public safety issue because injuries can occur from ATV use, he said. Illegal ATV use involves trespassing, he added. ATV use can cause property damage, he said. Also, the vehicles create noise nuisances, damaging the quality of life, he added.
The sergeant compared enforcing ATV laws at the D'Addario mine to the town's trespassing enforcement project at Fairfield Hills. After the town started strictly enforcing trespassing laws at Fairfield Hills, the incidence of that problem there greatly decreased, he said.