COLTON The town approved the use of three stretches of road for all-terrain vehicle traffic Wednesday, meaning plans for a countywide multiuse trail system can move forward.
The Colton Municipal Building meeting room was packed with people who wanted to sound off on the proposal. The meeting was standing room only, and some stood outside the open windows hoping to listen in.
After hearing from the community, the five-member town board voted unanimously to allow ATV traffic on stretches of Morgan Road, Windmill Road and Cold Brook Drive, a total of 2.95 miles. These roads link the proposed off-road trails that will cross through Colton.
Most of the gathered community members supported allowing ATVs to use the trails and the stretches of town roads. At the start of the meeting, Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger polled the room, asking for a show of hands to see who supported the local law. Dozens of hands were raised in approval, while only three were lifted in opposition. Two other people sent statements to the town opposing the law.
Hilary M. Oak said she doesnt want the constant noisy ATV traffic driving through the town.
Thats potentially thousands of ATVs that could be coming down my road, she said.
Jill Parrotte said she worried about the safety of pedestrians.
Those roads are very curvy and very hilly, she said.
Proponents of the law pointed toward the increased traffic and tourism the trails would bring to Colton. Many were members of local ATV clubs, and said official trails would encourage riders to follow the law.
Every day I get at least one call asking if they can bring a four-wheeler, and where they can ride, said Mary-Jo Spencer, owner of Cedar Lodge restaurant.
Becoming part of a proposed multi-county ATV trail would bring more business to her and other Colton restaurant owners, she said.
Daniel Murphy, an avid snowmobile and ATV rider, agreed.
Were not going to have big business in this town. Were not going to have big industry. Our economic viability comes from tourism, he said.
Diane Lawson lives on the affected stretch of Morgan Road. She said she does not ride, but is willing to see whether the law will benefit the community.
I dont think it should be us against them. Give it a chance, she said.
With the law passed, a portion of trail linking Lake Ozonia to Colton should be open this summer, along with a trail linking Lewis County to Cranberry Lake. The two will be connected next year.
Some of the laws opponents plan to bring legal action against the town to see it repealed, but Mr. Bulger said he supported the boards decision.
Its not just about the economic impact. Its about getting people out of their houses and away from their TVs, he said before the vote.