Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Currituck adopts ATV ordinance at January Meeting

UPDATE January 9, 2008:
Currituck County Commissioners adopt a revised ordinance on ATV's allowing them to remain on beaches. An article in the Daily Press states the following:

Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
CURRITUCK — Currituck County has a new law that penalizes all-terrain vehicle riders deemed a nuisance to their neighbors.
After months of wrangling over how to punish nuisance ATV riders without penalizing those who aren't, the Board of Commissioners Monday night unanimously approved an ordinance amendment that's designed to do that.
"This will not inhibit those persons who are using all-terrain vehicles in a safe and respectable manner from operating them anywhere in the county," board Chairman Barry Nelms said.
The amendment is much different from a previous ordinance that the board nearly passed several months ago.
On Oct. 15, four of the board's five members approved an ordinance that for all practical purposes banned ATVs on beaches and from backyards. The ordinance barred ATV riding within 300 feet of a residential lot. It also banned ATVs on the "foreshore or beach strand."
The measure generated an outcry from ATV riders.
Nelms didn't attend the meeting where the first vote was taken. But when he returned from a trip from Costa Rica, he asked his colleagues to go back to the drawing board on the ordinance.
The new law the board adopted Monday is actually an amendment to an existing ordinance on "declared nuisances." It prohibits ATV riding "in a reckless manner; in a manner that creates excessive noise ... (or) that spreads dust; and "on a track or course located on property used for residential purposes."
It also prohibits ATV riders not on their own property from willfully damaging, among other things, trees, crops, vegetables, plants, gardens and springs.
County Attorney Ike McRee, who drew up the new amendment, said riders who violate Currituck's new ATV law could be penalized in a variety of ways.
Under the previous draft of the law, violators could have faced a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment of no more than 30 days.
The ordinance amendment does not include this language, but there are a variety of different penalties a nuisance violator could face, McRee said.
"Bits and pieces of these (penalties) are provided in other parts of ordinances," he said.
For example, if the ATV rider is making excessive noise, he could be prosecuted under the county's noise ordinance.
"There is no zoning district that allows a race track as a permitted use on a property," McRee said. "There is already a provision in an ordinance — civil penalties — for (violating) that type of thing."
McRee said he researched other ATV ordinances across the country by doing a Google search. However, he did not model Currituck's new law specifically on another ATV ordinance.
Instead, the wording in Currituck's ordinance was more inspired by laws in the Northwest and Midwest that regulate snow-mobile use. In fact, some of the wording was inspired by an ordinance from Boone County, Ky., McRee said.

In response to primarily mainland Currituck issues regarding ATV's being a nuisance to residents, the County is reviewing its ATV ordinance. They would have been banned altogether it appears had all Commissioners been present to vote.A further breakdown can be found here.