Swans Island residents will decide at town meeting March 7 whether to permit all terrain vehicles on town roads. STOCK IMAGE

Opening roads to ATVs up for vote

SWANS ISLAND — Residents here will vote at the annual town meeting next Monday, March 7, on whether to allow all terrain vehicles (ATVs) to be driven on town roads.

A “yes” vote would authorize the Board of Selectmen to designate certain town roads as ATV-accessible. The selectmen also could impose conditions and restrictions.

“There’s a strong feeling that all ATVs should be insured and registered and that maybe they shouldn’t be allowed on all town roads,” Selectman Dexter Lee said.

State law already allows ATVs to be driven up to 1,500 feet on a state or town road.

Lee said enough of Swans Island’s registered voters signed a petition to place the question of allowing greater ATV use of town roads on the town meeting warrant. He said state law authorizes the selectmen to open town roads to ATVs.

“But we wanted to put it out to the entire populace,” he said.

“We had a public hearing, and all the people who were for it were there and all the people who were against it didn’t show up,” he said.

Lee said there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue.

“What I hear from some people is, the ATVs are on the roads anyway, so we may as well legalize them,” he said. “But the private road owners are all upset; they are totally against it.”

He said they fear that if ATVs are allowed to travel farther on town roads, ATV use of private roads will increase.

“They feel the ATVs tear up the roads,” Lee said.

And he said some island residents fear that “our quiet summers are going to be destroyed.”

PERC or Fiberight

Voters at town meeting also will decide whether to continue sending their garbage to Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) in Orrington or switch to the proposed Fiberight plant in Hampden in 2018.

PERC burns trash to generate electricity. Fiberight would convert it into biofuel.

The Municipal Review Committee (MRC), which represents 187 Maine cities and towns that have contracts with PERC, has recommend switching to Fiberight.

So far, the Bar Harbor Town Council and the city councils in Bangor and Brewer have voted to go with Fiberight. In most of the other MRC communities, the decision will be made by voters at town meetings over the next two months.

Swans Island’s annual town meeting next Monday will be held at Swans Island School starting at 9 a.m.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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