This Friday, nearly 250 miles of roads in Potter and Tioga counties will open to ATVs as part of DCNR’s ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program.

“This could be a positive or it could be a negative. I think there are a lot of questions but no answers yet until this gets going,” said Will Hunt, Potter County GIS/planning director at the planning commission’s meeting Tuesday.

According to a recent press release from DCNR, “This ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program is in response to growing ATV purchases, registrations and public demand for increased riding opportunities. Through collaborating with public and private partners, the pilot aims to offer long-distance riding opportunities, contribute to local economies, while maintaining the many uses and values of the state forest system.”

Hunt said local routes opening include sections of Cross Fork and Denton Hill to Sweden Valley and Coudersport, sections of Brookland, Ice Mine and Small Fork roads into Coudersport, and Watrous Road in Tioga County to Rexford to Colton Point.

When the pilot ends in 2023, DCNR will present state legislators with an impact study that will evaluate opening these or other routes permanently.

“There may be more connector routes next year, but right now there isn’t really anything being looked at in northern or western parts of the county,” said Hunt, who is leading a local task force assisting DCNR and PennDOT with the program’s execution. “State and local police are teaming up to enforce [existing ATV road rules]. We all know that’s going to be a challenge. There’s going to be some learning curves in the development of this.”

Riders wanting to take advantage of the new routes must purchase a special permit for $20 for the remainder of the riding season. Next year, the permit will be $40 at the start of the season Memorial Day weekend.

For more information about the ATV Regional Trail Connector pilot program, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov/Recreation/WhatToDo/ATVRiding/ATVRegionalTrailConnectorPilot/Pages/default.aspx.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Hunt said he’s still not aware if Amazon is the investor of a solar energy farm the commission previously approved in Hebron Township.

“There’s been a lot floating around about the Amazon solar project, and the answer is, ‘I don’t know,’” said Hunt. “We did approve one in Hebron, but we have not been made aware if Amazon is the investor.”

Hunt said the Hebron Township project timeline won’t be known until developers request a a pre-construction meeting with the planning commission.

Hunt also reported that there’s been no decision made in allowing low-altitude military flights over the county.

“An additional concern was raised, however. If Maryland allows low-altitude flights, that could open the door to other international groups wanting the same thing,” he said.

The commission also approved the subdivision of the Hunt property in the Austin-area and reviewed plans for a subdivision of the Miller property in Hector Township. The commission made no formal motion on the latter, since the township has its own planning commission.

The Potter County Planning Commission meets every second Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Gunzburger Building, Coudersport. Meetings have a virtual option until further notice. Visit https://pottercountypa.net/post.php?pid=14 for call-in information.

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