NORTH SMITHFIELD – A proposed ban on ATV use within 300 feet of neighboring residences failed to gain the support of the Town Council on Monday after a large number of off-road vehicle owners turned out to oppose the measure.

The proposed ban would have prohibited property owners from using their ATVs and other off-road vehicles within 300 feet of an abutting residence. The ban included exceptions for yard work, farming, law enforcement, medical personnel and loading or unloading an ATV from a trailer.

The proposal came about after Paul Soares, a resident and former member of the town Conservation Commission, approached the council last month about a neighbor whose child had been riding an ATV along their shared property line. Soares said he had called North Smithfield Police on several occasions to submit a noise complaint but was told they could not enforce the noise ordinance as currently written.

While several councilors initially expressed interest in the proposed change, Council President John Beauregard later said he wanted to hear the public’s input before voting. Members of the public came out in force during Monday’s meeting, with most of them expressing strong opposition to the proposed ban.

“If this proposed amendment passes, I would no longer be able to ride in my yard except for yard work,” said Harley Mitchell, a Farnum Pike resident who said she’d been riding an ATV since she was a kid.

Many individuals said the disagreement was a personal issue between two neighbors and urged the Town Council not to penalize other ATV riders as a result.

“If there’s any way we can make this happen without chastising the 12,000 other citizens in this town, I would like to see that happen,” said Keith Klockars, an ATV rider and resident of Pound Hill Road.

Thomas McGee, a former town councilor, pointed out there are fewer areas than there used to be where people can ride their ATVs.

“All those spots are gone,” he said. “Let’s just live our lives and try to like one another and get along.”

John Russo said he’s also dealt with the issue of motorized vehicles at a dirt bike track near his home on Pine Court. Russo said he thought 20 feet was too close for people to ride dirt bikes near his back deck, but agreed the 300-foot proposal was too high.

Soares and his wife, Sandy, argued in favor of the amendment, saying they tried to act within the existing ordinance but were told it couldn’t be enforced.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of ATV riders in this room and everywhere that are respectful that don’t purposely try to aggravate their neighbors. The question is, how do you separate them from the good people?” Soares said.

Soares and his neighbor, Todd Caisse, along with their family members, repeated their disputing accounts of the disagreement, which has played out at several Town Council meetings. Soares has accused Caisse of foul language and refusing to speak to him on the issue, while Caisse has raised concerns about a video Soares took as evidence of his 14-year-old son riding his ATV.

Town Councilors on Monday defended Soares’ reputation, with Beauregard describing him as a “pillar of the community.” Councilors Claire O’Hara and Kimberly Alves both expressed hope that the two neighbors would be able to address the issue on their own.

“I would wish that this person or these neighbors can go away to their homes and have respect for each other and ride in the appropriate times and in the appropriate areas, and that way we can get along and move on from this,” Alves said.

None of the councilors moved to approve the ordinance change, and the measure failed for lack of a motion.

(7) comments

Pete Godon

The average lawn mower is much louder than today's 4 stroke ATVs. Should we include no grass cutting within 300 feet of a neighbor's house. Things culd be much worse... They could be playing wiffle ball.

sw02895

Guys have been riding dirt bikes And motorcycles In the Sayles Hill, Iron mine Hill Road area ( myself included) Long before it got built up with a bunch of people that just want guys to sit around playing video games. Leave the kids alone!!!! I’m sure they’re not riding after dark. Let the kids be kids. !!! If you don’t like hearing dirt bikes and motorcycles move to the city.

Thomas Ficca

AMEN !

MCC

Funny, I have lived in NS since 1987 and I never heard dirt bikes or motorcycles ever. In the last 10 years this pastime has exploded. If you don’t like hearing dirt bikes and motorcycles move to the city? Seriously? How about finding your own huge piece of property in NH, or even closer, Burrillville? Someone has developed a track behind Great Road, down on property owned by the rail line. Noise affects all of us negatively and while as a solo rider you don’t care, the people you affect negatively do.

SilasDogood

What’s happening with civility in our society? It sounds like a clear case of disrespect and bad parenting.

NSRider

If the NSPD did their jobs to begin with and enforced current laws there would have been no need to change the noise ordinance. Because one guy won’t control his kid, he nearly ruined it for responsible ATV riders. Huge waste of town council time but good they listened to the people and said no.

SteveC

When was what the public thought every a concern. Sounds like I know a guy.

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