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Colton passes law allowing ATV travel on some roads in town

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COLTON - The Colton Town Board has passed a measure that will allow all-terrain vehicle traffic on stretches of Morgan Road, Windmill Road and Cold Brook Drive, a stretch that equals 2.95 miles.

That three-mile route will connect two trails that currently exist for off-road ATV traffic.

The local law was passed shortly after a public hearing that drew a large crowd of ATV enthusiasts that made it standing room only in the board room.

Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger moved the vote on the local law to the top of the board’s meeting agenda moments after the public hearing was closed.

“For the people who don’t want to sit around, let’s go back to the public hearing on the local law to open up the roads in Colton and then we can get on with the rest of the meeting,” Mr. Bulger said.

A motion was made by Councilman Donald Shoen and seconded by Councilman Ronald Robert before being unanimously approved by the board.

Town officials, in their local law, noted, “This board hereby finds that the opening of certain town roads and portions thereof to ATV use and travel is necessary in order for ATVs to gain access to areas and/or trails adjacent thereto which would otherwise be impossible to access without the use of such town highways.”

The board also feels that the passing of the local law will be highly beneficial to the public and will “stimulate the local economy” and “offer enjoyment to the citizens of the town and to others traveling to this area including tourists.”

That sentiment was reiterated by The Colton Dirt Dogs ATV Club President Daniel Murphy.

“I spoke at the last meeting where we discussed this law. At that time I was speaking just a resident of Colton. Today I’m speaking as the president of the new ATV club in the Colton/South Colton area,” Mr. Murphy said.

“Our web site, our Facebook page currently receives between 4,000 and 5,000 hits a week from people looking at what’s going on in Colton. We’re using that to push those viewers at the other things that our beautification and tourism committee are doing; the kayaking, the white water rafting. That is working, I can personally see it because I can see when people like our page and then immediately like the Colton page,” he added.

“I’ve also received probably 40 to 50 e-mails from people outside of the town that want to come to the town. They’re excited about this trail. ... It’s going to bring people from outside of our town here to use our trail and stop at our local businesses,” according to Mr. Murphy.

There are eight rules, conditions, and restrictions listed on the document that are applicable to all town roads opened to ATV use. They include the restricting someone operating an ATV on the designated roads between midnight and 6 a.m. and also prohibiting a rider from exceeding the 30 miles per hour speed limit. The law will be in effect once it is filed with the Secretary of State.

Mr. Bulger also talked about some of the history and background of the various ATV laws.

“Going back a little bit in some of the history of this; the New York state law basically says that if you’re opening up things you have to be able to go from trail head to trail head. You can’t open up a section of road to go from a trail to a store. You’ve got to be to the trail head of some place,” Mr. Bulger said.

“So the town, I don’t know how many years back, they approved opening up a lot of roads in Colton and that got challenged as this will. ... When that got to (state Supreme Court) Judge (David) Demarest, the town law got reversed because it didn’t comply with the state law as I understand it.”

Mr. Bulger said extra precautions had been taken before drafting the new law to address potential legal challenges. “This time the county is going through this whole process, looking at the environmental impact and all that’s required to get everything in position so that once we’re challenged, this time we should be in a position to defend it,” Mr. Bulger said.

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