Stow City Council voted 5-1 Thursday to kill proposed new regulations for the operation of dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and other similar off-road vehicles.
Council voted to withdraw the proposed new rules after hearing from about a dozen residents, both for and against the laws, and Stow Mayor Sara Drew.
The legislation was introduced by Councilman James Costello earlier this month after reporting numerous complaints from residents of Progress Park Drive for reckless operation of ATVs in their neighborhood.
Costello cast the only vote against withdrawing the legislation Thursday. Councilman Matt Riehl was absent.
Drew told council she met with the city's police and law departments this week to review how the city could use existing laws and ordinances to address the problems in the Progress Park neighborhood.
The mayor said city officials planned to aggressively pursue the issue, which by most accounts appears to be a nuisance to the neighborhood.
"And there may be possible criminal charges," Drew said.
Councilman Brian D'Antonio made the motion to withdraw the proposed legislation after council heard from Drew and about a dozen residents who spoke Thursday.
Councilwoman Mary Bednar said she believed the city had enough laws in place to address the isolated problem on Progress Park Drive.
Bednar said in 2012 the city received 25 calls with complaints about ATV, dirt bike or other similar vehicle use. Of those, 12 were for on-road riding, nine didn’t list a location and four were for riding in a yard or field.
"I’m not saying those four need to be overlooked, but I do believe our mayor, law department and chief of police can look into that, and if (legislation) needs to be brought later that is a little more fair I would be happy to look into it," Bednar said.
Progress Park Drive resident Joe Shinsky, who said he was representing five of his neighbors, pleaded with council to adopt some rules that are both fair to responsible ATV and dirt bike riders while also protecting property owners from reckless operators.
"We’re not fortunate, the folks on Progress Park Drive … to have a bunch of nice guys ride behind our house," Shinsky said.
Other Progress Park residents complained about noise, dust and aired concerns about safety.
Shinsky conceded that he had never tried to have a conversation with the riders, their parents or property owners.
But Councilman Brian Lowdermilk said he found the proposed rules problematic given the fact that the neighbors never tried to talk to the riders or their parents and work out the problems.
Lowdermilk said he visited the property generating the complaints and talked to both a rider and the parent about possible changes to riding habits — and he offered to facilitate a conversation between the family and neighbors.
"They seemed to be very open to restrictions on where they ride, when they ride and how often they ride," Lowdermilk said.
The proposed legislation would have prohibited use of ATVs on land less than 4 acres in size unless the machine was being used for snow plowing or similar property maintenance.
The legislation also would have created a 150-foot buffer prohibiting riders from riding any closer than that distance to adjacent property lines.
Lowdermilk said after the meeting that because the proposed new legislation was withdrawn council would have to start again in a committee meeting before coming back to a regular council meeting to consider restrictions on off-road vehicle use in the future.
"This essentially kills it," he said of Thursday's vote on the legislation.