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Lewis County legislators to look at revamped Constableville ATV plan

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LOWVILLE — More than six months after rejecting a plan to add all-terrain vehicle trails in the Constableville area over legal concerns, Lewis County legislators will consider a revamped proposal.

“I think we’re doing it legally,” said Board of Legislators Vice Chairman Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, a new member of the legislative Economic Development Committee and one of five lawmakers who opposed the initial proposal.

Under the new plan, roughly 4.8 miles along segments of Byrons Corners, Highmarket and Mackay roads would be opened to ATV traffic. The committee, at the suggestion of the Highmarket Wheelers ATV Club, recommended the plan Thursday. The full board will hold a special meeting at 5:15 p.m. today in the second-floor chambers at the county office building to approve a state Environmental Quality Review for the proposal and schedule a public hearing.

Lawmakers then could approve the road openings at their regular meeting March 5. That would allow the new trails to be included on this year’s ATV trail map, which will be printed in early April.

“That’s why we’re kind of pushing to get it done as soon as possible,” Mr. Fanning said.

The club last summer floated a plan to add a collection of trails throughout the town of West Turin to the county’s permit-based ATV trail system.

However, resolutions to approve access agreements with 17 private landowners and the village of Constableville and open a couple of county roads to ATV traffic failed in a 5-5 vote as six votes are required for passage on the 10-member board.

Dissenting legislators expressed concern about a spot where ATV riders would have been routed directly from Byrons Corners Road to Highmarket Road with no off-road trail in between. In previous and pending cases filed by local opponents to county ATV road openings, judges have indicated that such a setup is not proper under state law.

Since then, the Highmarket club has signed up an additional 12 landowners, including one with property at the intersection of the two county roads on which a 0.2-mile trail is now proposed to connect them.

According to environmental review materials for the proposal, the extra parcels would increase off-road trail mileage from 10 to 11.7 miles, with apparent potential for more.

However, the plan would still rely on more than 22 miles of town roads to navigate around the Highmarket area.

Roads to be opened would include two segments of Byron Corners Road totaling 4.1 miles, two segments of Beecher Road totaling 3.9 miles and six segments of George Kraeger Road totaling 9.5 miles, along with 4.8 miles of Michigan Mills Road.

Much of the northern part of the town of West Turin is already accessible to ATVs via these already opened town roads: Moore, Smith, Platt, Michigan Mills, North, Lovenduski, West, Crofoot Hill, Gomer Hill and Lyman.

The village of Constableville last year opened segments of James and High streets to ATVs. However, past Trustee Bernadette M. DeSantis challenged the law and village officials rescinded it. They left open the possibility of revisiting the issue as part of a larger plan.

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