Planning and Development Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR VIOLATION OF A MUNICIPAL ORDINANCE REGULATING THE OPERATION OR USE OF A DIRT BIKE OR ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Committee on Planning and Development
Sen. Leonard A. Fasano
REASONS FOR BILL:
This legislation was introduced due to recent complaints that dirt bike or all-terrain vehicles have been speeding in and out of traffic, are extremely loud, and destroying grass in city parks. Most all-terrain vehicles do not have turn singles, and do not meet road safety standards. Current State Statutes requires a police officer to give a warring to first-time violators for operating an all-terrain vehicle in regulated areas. The bill allows the police officers to issue a fine to first-time violators using an all-terrain vehicle in a park or on a municipal road. Municipalities are not required to adopt this policy or enact this legislation, ultimately not making it a requirement to post any notices about a change in violations.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Amy Blaymore Paterson, Esq., Executive Director, Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC); On behalf of CLCC, Amy Blaymore Paterson expressed support for the bill. CLCC serves as the umbrella organization for the state's land conservation and land trust., CLCC works with government entities, conservation and advocacy organizations, and land trusts to provide high quality stewardship for conserved lands in Connecticut.
C.G.S. 23-8(b) aims to preserve 21% of state land to be held as open space. Out of the 21%, 11% will be owned by the municipalities. To meet this goal, local and state government officials partnered with advocacy groups and local volunteers to preserve and protect land reserved for recreational, conservation, and agricultural purposes.
ATV's and all-terrain vehicles cause destruction to vegetation and sensitive wetland areas, which may lead to the erosion of land. Erosion and land deterioration leads to effects on fish spawning areas and other wildlife habitats.
The municipal regulations against ATV use in the cities are difficult to enforce. The changes in statute equip officers and towns to effectively enforce these ordinances that are intended to protect the safety of its citizens and preserve natural resources.
Eric Hammering, Executive Director, Connecticut Forrest and Park Association (CFPA): On behalf CFPA, Eric Hammering expressed support of the bill. , which provides a new warning for municipalities to issue in order to reduce the improper use of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles.
CFPA, along with the help of volunteers, maintains over 825 miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking trails. In 2014, over 29,000 volunteer hours were spent to maintain the trails for public use. All-terrain vehicles are not allowed on the trails for the following reasons:
1. They cause erosion problems for the trails
2. The vehicles damage vegetation and wildlife habitats
3. They are dangerous for the riders
4. They create safety issues and conflicts with legal trail users
Many of the all-terrain riders using the trails are trespassing on the property, and CFPA believes managing the use of the vehicles is biggest problem it faces.
S.B. 186 gives municipalities the option to enact ordinances against all-terrain vehicles, and implement common sense punishments for violators.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Rico Dence