Complaints may spur restrictions on ATV use
Complaints about a dirt-bike track on Fourth Street may result in a new Marysville law restricting the use of all-terrain vehicles within city limits.
Several residents complained to city council's public safety committee May 13 about the track, which they said is used nearly every day. Neighbors said they cannot sit at their dinner tables at night and watch TV with their windows open because of the noise and dust. In addition, they said, driveways are covered in dust and cookouts are nearly impossible because of the dust that gets into their outdoor grills.
Officers responding to the complaints have talked to the riders, but there is no specific ordinance that gives police the power to pursue criminal charges.
City Law Director Tim Aslaner said if neighbors document the issues with pictures and video, it would help the city prove a case in court.
"A lot of this is subjective," he said. "Some conduct is so extreme it does violate the reasonable senses of someone trying to enjoy peace and quiet in their home.
"If you were to record it and take pictures of it and have people affected by this be able to articulate the time of day, the conduct you witnessed, how it disturbed you and describe, to the best of your ability, the level of noise, that would be OK, especially if a police officer were to come out and tell the people to quiet down," he said.
Aslaner suggested that for now, the situation be handled under city laws on disorderly conduct and unreasonable noise. Disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor; those convicted of it may be fined up to $150.
"There is nothing precluding the residents from going and filing a civil suit against the people causing the problem," Aslaner said.
Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden said it can be very difficult to get a disorderly conduct case through court via a police officer's observation. The court would want the citizen with the complaint to testify, he said.
Aslaner suggested an ordinance could prohibit the use of off-road vehicles a certain number of feet from the property line, a public street or public sidewalk and a certain distance away from a neighboring house.
Committee chairman Dan Fogt suggested agricultural interests be taken into consideration, especially since the Union County fairgrounds are within city limits.
Aslaner said the ordinance could include exceptions for such things as medical or health emergencies, cutting grass, plowing fields or removing snow. It would not prohibit the use of all-terrain vehicles on private property, but it would confine them so their use would not become a nuisance to neighboring properties.
He will get a draft ordinance to committee members before their next meeting June 17.