WATERBORO — A proposed ordinance that would have given all terrain vehicles the ability to operate on some public roads could be revisited later this year after it failed to pass last month in Waterboro.

On Tuesday, selectmen briefly discussed a potential referendum vote on the matter at the November elections but made no decisions and it was clear the result of the April vote on the matter still rankled.

An ordinance initiated by the Ossipee Mountain ATVers Club failed to pass at a Waterboro selectmen’s meeting last month, but the matter remains a topic of discussion. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

The April 23 vote on the proposed ordinance failed when the five member selectmen’s board voted 2-2 and the fifth member, Gordon Littlefield, abstained. Voting in favor were Chairman Dennis Abbott and Ted Doyle, while Tim Neill and Dwayne Woodsome voted against.

A further motion that night to send the matter to referendum on June 11 failed, because, according to minutes of the meeting, at that juncture a unanimous vote would have been required to put the question on the referendum warrant, and that didn’t happen — Neill voted against.

The Ossipee Mountain ATVers Club have been working on an ordinance in an effort to gain access to existing off-road trails for the last couple of years. The proposed ordinance would have allowed ATV riders to use portions of Ossipee Hill Road, the improved section of McLucas Road and parts of Deering Ridge Road on a regular basis.

Woodsome on Tuesday pointed out that he had favored a referendum vote.

“I still feel every one of us on the board has some sort of conflict, not a conflict of interest but a conflict,” Woodsome said. “I think this should have gone out to the voter.”

Minutes of the April 23 meeting show there were questions raised by some members whether their counterparts should be voting — Neill noted Abbott is the father of the ATV club president, Todd Abbott.

Littlefield commented that his spouse is an Abbott and a cousin to Dennis Abbott.

An audience member suggested Neill might want to recuse himself because he lives on one of the roads that would be open to ATV usage.

A conflict of interest under Maine statute applies to officials voting if they have a direct or indirect financial interest in a matter under consideration.

In Waterboro, selectmen have the ability to approve ordinances, but could choose to send a proposal to the voters — as they did in a preliminary, non-binding vote in November 2018.

In that poll, voters were asked: “Are you in favor of allowing ATV use on certain town roads, if controlled by a municipal ordinance?” It was approved 1,599 to 1,304.

Neill on Tuesday proposed a new procedure for off-road vehicle operators who wanted to use the public roads, but it went nowhere.

The proposal would have required those seeking off-road use, regardless of the duration, to query homeowners on the road by certified mail, seeking feedback, with the cost of the mailing and the return postage the responsibility of the applicant. Then after a specific time, the results would be reviewed and if the majority of homeowners agreed with the proposal, it would be approved by selectmen, and denied if not.

Abbott, who pointed out the ATV Club has in the past asked the board for permission to use a specific road for a one-evening event, said sending out a mailer would be cost prohibitive.

He noted the proposed ATV ordinance could go on the November ballot, rather than adopting Neill’s proposed policy.

Others said Neill’s proposal singled out ATV users.

Neill pointed out homeowners pay property taxes and should be involved when requests are made.

Littlefield noted Waterboro is a recreation-oriented town, with ATVs, snowmobile enthusiasts, hikers, and others, and added that ATV riders are also residents and taxpayers.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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