COUDERSPORT — After months of discussions, presentations and public comments, the Coudersport Borough Council voted 4-1 to adopted a new ordinance that allows ATVs, UTVs and snowmobiles to operate on borough streets.
Conversations began in August, when members of the Potter County ATV/UTV Club attended the council meeting and requested borough streets be open for ATV use. A public hearing was held in October, where an overwhelming amount of support was shown for opening borough streets.
The ordinance states the borough roads are only designated for snowmobile/ATV use to enter the borough to access services, such as food or gas, to leave the borough to get to roads and trails, or for snow plowing/property maintenance. During weekdays, these vehicles cannot be used between 10:01 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.; during Fridays and Saturdays, operation can extend to midnight.
ATVs/snowmobiles shall not be driven faster than 15 mph within the borough. All state laws must be followed, including age limitations, which states operators must be 16 years of age, or older, and have a valid motor vehicle driver’s license. All snowmobiles/ATVs must be registered with DCNR and properly insured.
While the borough already has a noise ordinance, the ATV/snowmobile ordinance stated the sound intensity produced by an ATV/snowmobile can’t exceed 85 decibels of sound when measured at 20 inches. This ordinance doesn’t repeal the other noise ordinance, and in the event of a conflict, the more severe limitation, restriction and penalty will apply.
Council President Wayne Hathaway and council members Todd Husson, Gary Walaski and Marty Fry voted in favor of the ordinance. Vice President George Hults voted against it.
Hults said he voted against it because he has heard from a lot of borough residents who say snowmobiles have been driven on sidewalks and ruined them.
Steve Kelly, president of the Potter County ATV/UTV Club, told the Potter Leader-Enteprise that “it feels good to get this ordinance passed so the owners of ATVs/UTV’s can safely and respectfully access town to get to and from the trails and to bring some much-needed business to town.” The club encourages everyone to look into the state laws to see what it takes to be legal.
In a statement, the club thanked the borough council for considering and passing the ordinance allowing shared use of borough roads.
“Over the last several months we have forged a partnership with the council and look forward to working with them on future endeavors. We are grateful for the business and community support we received,” the statement read. “To our members and visitors please remember to wear a helmet and follow all state laws regarding ATV/UTV usage on roads. We will be working on legal access to fuel and parking options to be able to access businesses. This is a privilege, not a right and should be treated as such. Your actions reflect on the entire ATV community.”
For more information on the club or to join, find it on Facebook at Potter County ATV/UTV Club or email email@example.com.
The council accepted a verbal resignation from Brian Ruane, a council member who represented Ward 2. Borough manager Bev Morris said a letter was sent to Ruane last week, requesting he verify his address. He came into the borough office on Friday to tender his resignation, saying he had moved to Scranton.
Ruane has not attended recent council meetings; borough solicitor Dan Glassmire said Ruane had not participated in or voted during any meetings since he moved out of the borough.
With his resignation, there is a vacancy on the council. Any Ward 2 resident who is interested in filling that vacancy should submit a resume/letter of interest to the borough office by Jan. 8, 2021 and an interview with the borough council will be scheduled. Interested parties must be a registered voter and have resided within Ward 2 for at least one year.
The next Coudersport Borough Council meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20.