Months of divisive bickering between neighbors concerning the use of all-terrain vehicles in Upper Saucon Township came to a compromised conclusion Monday, when supervisors passed an ordinance placing limits on when and where such vehicles can be ridden.
The new Upper Saucon Township ordinance limits ATV use to the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., mandates that operators not drive the vehicles within 150 feet of a residential home and places other restrictions for driving the vehicles near property lines and backyards.
Regular complaints from residents in the Curly Horse development, off W. Hopewell Road, prompted the call for action from township officials.
Patrick Price, a resident of Rolling Ridge Drive in the Curly Horse development, presented supervisors with a petition containing more than 100 signatures in favor of the regulations.
"These homeowners make up a silent majority," Price said. "This is in the best long-term interest of our township. This a reality of life in a growing Lehigh Valley.
This ordinance is a compromise. For many, it goes too far, for many it does not go far enough."
Several nearby municipalities, including Lower Saucon Township, Salisbury Township and North Whitehall, have similar laws on the books.
Mike Shafer, an attorney representing township residents Tom and Shannon Nicoletti, called the ordinance "common courtesy."
Resident Annette Tantolo told supervisors she lives 32 feet from where ATVs were allowed to operate.
"My property sees an impact," Tantolo said. "I can't be in my yard. They have ridden all the way up to the point of my property. It impacts my right to peace and quiet."
Other residents see the limits on ATVs as an infringement on rights and freedoms.
Resident Peggy Sharre said her family now can't do what they want to do and has "turned the other cheek for years."
"We've been riding (ATVs) for 20 years and these kids didn't think they were committing a crime," she said. "I don't understand why we couldn't be left alone and let us do what we've been doing. We've endured a negative attitude from neighbors and made to look like we're the villains."
Resident Stephen Sosnowsky blamed supervisors for allowing developments such as Curly Horse, that he says diminished lot sizes and caused trouble between himself and neighbors over several issues.
Supervisors chairman, Stephen Wagner, along with Jack DeMatos, Dennis Benner and Patrick Leonard voted in favor of the ordinance. Supervisor Philip Spaeth was absent.
Benner said the ordinance was not a question of singling out ATV riders, but placing a "balancing act" on the issue.
"It's a different level of tolerance. I see both sides of the issue," Benner said. " It's about getting along as neighbors and I encourage you to do that."
Wagner said that his vote in favor of the ordinance was based on health, safety and welfare issues and existing ordinances.
For enforcement purposes, ATVs are described as vehicles having three, four or six wheels, commonly known as trail bikes, dirt bikes, mini-wheelers or quads.
Snowmobiles and battery-operated devices are exempt.
Violators face fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 and the failure to pay the fine will result of jail time of no more than 30 days.
In other business, supervisors were informed by township officials that snow removal costs for the 2013-14 winter weighed in $80,000 over budget and that the township's reserves will be utilized to fund the difference.