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County's proposed ATV law toughened

May 07, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A county ordinance that will deal with all-terrain vehicles was revised by the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday night to exclude ATVs from all roads, including those in subdivisions.

In a prior version of the ordinance, members of homeowners associations could decide whether ATVs should be allowed in their developments.

County attorney Norwood Bentley is preparing the ordinance for the commissioners.

The next step will be to hold a public hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 3. Commissioners Steve Teufel and Howard Strauss said they hope to hold the hearing in the county's main courtroom, since a large crowd is possible.

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Strauss said he hopes people both for and against the ordinance will speak, and he called the public hearing process "real democracy in action."

Both commissioners said ATVs are a problem on roads.

"Every time I turn around I see another one," Teufel said.

Strauss said that on the way to the commission meeting he spotted an ATV on a road. He said a woman and a young girl, who looked to be around 8 years old, were going approximately 30 mph. Neither was wearing a helmet, he said.

If commissioners approve the ordinance, it would take effect July 1. The ordinance includes penalties for those caught riding on roads.

First-time offenders would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would pay a penalty of up to $100. Second-time offenders would pay a fine of up to $500 and perform eight hours of community service, while third-time offenders would face up to $1,000 and 24 hours of community service.

If a child is found riding an ATV on a road, his or her parents would be held responsible under the ordinance.

The ordinance does not prohibit people from riding ATVs for a work-related purpose, such as farming, surveying land or utility work.

On-duty police officers who need to ride an ATV also are not bound by the ordinance, Bentley said.

The only roads not covered under the ordinance are Interstate 81 and streets in the county's two municipalities - Martinsburg and Hedgesville. Those streets and the interstate would be covered under city or state laws, Bentley said.

A sergeant with the Martinsburg Police Department said Thursday night that ATVs are already prohibited in the city, and Bentley said he believes they are not allowed on the interstate.

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