CANAAN — Residents at Saturday’s annual Town Meeting approved a $1.63 million budget and voted to allow all-terrain vehicle access on secondary roads.

The budget represents a decrease from the $1.39 million budget approved last year. It is unknown whether the tax rate of $16.50 per $1,000 of valuation will change until the school and county budgets are decided.

More than 100 people packed the upper floor of the Canaan Farmers Hall, approving all 35 warrant articles in about two hours.

An article asking if voters would approve opening all secondary roads to ATV access drew discussion Saturday, with resident Mary O’Donnell, who introduced the article, arguing for approval. She said the town of Newport recently opened secondary roads to ATV access. If her son comes to visit, they must trailer an ATV to be able to use it, she said.

“The biggest reason I did this, out of all of this, is we don’t have any police department in town and people speed by my house like crazy and I think the four-wheelers would slow traffic,” she said.

But Earl Boyd rejected the idea, saying there is no oversight or regulation of ATVs, including for associated noise and safety issues.


“It is my opinion that this is an unregulated, lawless activity,” Boyd said.

Wade Lesperance, facing camera, and others raise their voting placards Saturday while voting on an article during the annual Canaan Town Meeting at Canaan Farmers Hall. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

If someone breaks the law, for instance, there’s no way to identify the person responsible, as ATVs are unlicensed, according to Boyd. He said if someone loses their license, they can just hop on one and drive around if they want.

“I also think that this is something that affects everybody in this town, and it should be voted on by everybody,” he said.

Ken Richardson said he sees both sides of the issue but he thinks if ATVs are allowed on secondary roads, they should be inspected.

“If I have to inspect my vehicles to go on the road, they have to inspect theirs as well,” he said.

Officials said all roads in town are secondary roads except U.S. Route 2 and Route 23. Resident Jake Burrill said he sees no issues with ATVs, which are four-wheel vehicles, just like other vehicles that have four wheels. If there are issues, people should call the authorities, he said.


“If it follows the law, there’s no issue,” Burrill said. “If the exhaust is loud, call to complain.”

In other matters, residents overwhelmingly approved a language change in the town’s Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments and Retail Marijuana Social Clubs. With the change, the word “marijuana” was replaced with cannabis, to conform to state law. Residents approved the change in an 83-3 secret ballot vote.

They voted to raise and appropriate $50,000 to be placed in a reserve account for a future town real estate tax assessment revaluation. They also approved changing the town clerk’s position from elected to appointed, beginning with the end of the current elected term, in 2026; $298,200 for winter road maintenance; $134,200 for summer roads; $62,013 for Canaan Public Library; $160,300 for solid waste reduction; and $80,000 for the fire department.

Elections will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Office. Incumbent selectmen Daniel E. Harriman and Megan Y. Smith are running for reelection and Kathleen R. Perelka, a past selectperson, is running for a seat being vacated by Charles Worcester who chose not to run for reelection.

Karen M. Clark, Jeffrey P. Clarke, Donald S. Decker, Makayla M. Robinson and Paula J. Robinson are running for five seats on the Planning Board. Clarke and Makayla Robinson are running for seats being vacated by Jeff Peterson and David Patterson. Denise B. Stetkis is running unopposed for her position as town clerk, Jean L. Franklin is running unopposed for reelection to the School Administrative District 54 board of directors, and Michael W. Robinson Jr. is running for reelection as road commissioner.

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