FAIRFIELD — Town officials are signaling their support for the creation of a 1.2-mile all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile access route along Route 23.
Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said the town’s ATV club, the Central Maine ATV Club, is trying to connect a system of trails, but one section of the trail was cut off when new property owners decided they didn’t want ATVs going across their private property. To make up for that, the club and the town looked into finding an alternate trail route.
This required over a mile of access along Route 23, between the intersections of Route 23 and Six Rod Road and Route 23 and Gagnon Road. Route 23 is a state-owned road, so the club would have to get state approval from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Department of Transportation.
Flewelling said a person riding an ATV would have been allowed to travel up to 500 yards between trail openings on that road without state approval, but since the proposed access route is much longer, that is not the case.
The club has filled out an application to the state, but it must be accompanied by a recommendation letter from the town. The Town Council held a public hearing Wednesday on the matter to gauge what residents of Route 23 thought about the possible access route before deciding on whether to go forward with the recommendation letter.
After the public hearing, Flewelling said the council voted in support of the club and she was crafting the town’s recommendation letter to send with the club’s application to the state. She said it would be completed soon.
Flewelling said the club approached the town some time ago about this. The initial plan had been to use town-owned roads and would have required the participation of neighboring Oakland to accommodate the trail access. However, Flewelling said the club opted to pursue Route 23 as its access point first. The town-owned road option would have been a much greater distance.
“It actually allows them to travel on the road,” Flewelling said.
The club would be in charge of establishing signage on the road, and essentially it would ensure ATV riders couldn’t be fined for traveling off to the road shoulder.
“Typically the travel is to be on the shoulder and not down the middle of the road,” Flewelling said.
Flewelling said as part of the process, the state probably will send an engineer to the area to check for safety.
“The state will follow up to make sure this new additional traffic is not impeding what is currently there for flow of traffic,” she said.
In other matters, the council also will began a discussion of abolishing an outdated town ordinance on drug paraphernalia. She said the ordinance probably was crafted during a time when a number of town ordinances were created. The drug paraphernalia one mirrors state law, so Flewelling said it was unnecessary and “it needs to go away.”
According to a memo from police Chief Thomas Gould to Flewelling and the council, the ordinance was an old one that was never deleted after a new Public Safety Ordinance was enacted.
“The Paraphernalia Ordinance as written is obsolete and was written to mirror Maine State Law,” Gould wrote. “This ordinance should be removed as it is now in conflict with Maine Law.”
The ordinance is not listed on the town’s website, and Flewelling said it had been taken down quite some time ago. However, upon looking back, it was discovered the council never had voted officially to abolish it.
“This shouldn’t exist. It’s the same thing as state law and should go away,” Flewelling said.
A copy of the ordinance, which was enacted in May 1981, states its purpose is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens by prohibiting the possession, sale, delivery, use or advertisement of drug paraphernalia.
Flewelling said the town ordinance had called for fines for offenders, but said the town doesn’t have the authority to do that; that authority falls to the state.
Colin Ellis — 861-9253