By Barbara Tetreault
BERLIN — Complaints about ATVers riding up and down neighborhood streets, riding after curfew, loud exhaust pipes, and popping wheelies has police encouraging the public to report such incidents.
The topic was discussed at Monday’s city council work session after the council received a written complaint from a Hillside Avenue resident. The resident complained that ATVs and dirt bikes operating between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. were waking him up at least three times a night. Police Chief Peter Morency said police have also received complaints about ATVs use in the city.
Morency said there is a 10 p.m. curfew and ATVs should not be on city streets after that time. The chief said the department takes ATV complaints seriously and wants to hear about enforcement issues.
Morency said he believes the vast majority of ATVers are responsible and follow regulations because they want to see city street access continue. ATVers are allowed to ride on city streets to access trails and local businesses. But the off-highway vehicles are not suppose to be used to go back and forth to work or to drive around the city.
Morency said he believes most of the complaints are from young riders and said he feels the city should take a look at tightening up the ordinance. As written it allows underage drivers who are state OHRV safety certificate to ride on city streets as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult over 18. Morency said the idea was to accommodate families with teen drivers ATV riding together.
The chief said the ordinance, however, allows underage teens to drive with friends over 18 and the result is groups of young riders. Morency said he feels most of the complaints about ATVs traveling up and down city streets late at night as well as wheelies and noise stem from younger riders.
He suggested it might be time to review the ordinance to see if there needs to be more restrictions on young ATV drivers.
Councilor Mike Rozek suggested the council traffic and safety committee review the ordinance with police and report back to the council for the Aug. 14 meeting. Mayor Paul Grenier and the council agreed with that suggestion.
Morency asked the public to report violators to police immediately so they can have a chance to catch them. Councilor Peter Higbee asked if that included noise complaints and Morency said it did. He said Berlin and Gorham police have been talking about purchasing a decibel meter to measure noise levels.