The Hyde Park Town Board is considering new restrictions on the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the town, following recent complaints made by residents concerned about safety, noise, and dangerous driving that occurred on town roads this past spring.

A public hearing on the ATV law (Local Law No. D of 2020) was held during the virtual Hyde Park Town Board meeting on Aug. 31.

Hyde Park Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr explained that the law does not ban the use of ATVs but does impose some restrictions on their use.

“What we are trying to do is balance the needs of property owners who deserve the quiet enjoyment of their homes and also the rights of individuals to use ATVs,” said Rohr. 

The town board believes it is important to preserve the character of Hyde Park neighborhoods, she added.

Residents had the chance to tune into the live stream to speak or submit written comments to be read during the meeting. 

“Reasonable rules and regulations created and enforced by the town will allow ATV riders to enjoy their sport within appropriate boundaries while taking the common good of our town into equal consideration,” said Hyde Park resident Carol Pickering.

“The surrounding homeowners are subjected to the relentless and annoying sound of the revving engines and, believe me, it can get very annoying,” said Hyde Park resident David Schwartz. “On several occasions recently, we finally gave up, went inside, and closed the windows.”

A number of speakers expressed concern about the spacing requirements for operating an ATV in the proposed law. The proposed local law would restrict the use of ATVs “within 500 feet of a property line or 1,000 feet of a residence at any time.”

“If I want my kids to be able to ride on my property under direct supervision safely, I should be able to be afforded the option to do so,” said Staatsburg resident Michael Dooley. 

“This provision clearly unfairly discriminates against any resident who cannot afford a parcel with property lines longer than a thousand feet from surrounding neighbors,” said Chairman of the Dutchess County Libertarian Party Stephen M. Reifenberg.

There are exemptions that allow for maintenance work such as construction, repair and landscaping on a property.

After the public hearing, the town board worked closely with the police chief of Hyde Park to refine the proposal.

Among the changes made was the addition of an exemption for plowing and reducing the required distance from a residence from 1,000 to 500 feet. 

“We were glad to take the input of those who opposed the law and make revisions to address the concerns,” said Rohr.

The public hearing is scheduled to continue virtually at the Sept. 21 town board meeting.

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