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ATV study group needed PDF Print E-mail

Dear Editor:

I recognize that accessing a town road on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and connecting to an ATV trail represents a convenience to some Three Lakes residents, however, I feel any town board action granting road access should be done only after careful study and assurances to taxpayers that it is in the best public interest.

Road access to town roads has been a very divisive subject in many North Woods communities. Not too long ago, Three Lakes addressed another such issue (whether or not to opt out of Act 31) by authorizing a complete study prior to taking action. A committee of citizens for and against was afforded several months to study the controversy and make recommendations to the town board.

What is different now and what is the rush other than an apparent urgency to get this accomplished before opposition has an opportunity to express their points of view?

Accordingly, the Three Lakes Town Board has an obligation to authorize a­nother such group to study possible concerns which might include, but are not limited to: safety and speed standards of ATVs versus cars/trucks including age of drivers, traffic congestion, environmental degradation, interference with wildlife patterns and nesting, transportation of terrestrial invasive species, noise standards, emission standards, feasibility of connecting to ATV trails, possible backlash to businesses that promote ATV road use, actual likelihood businesses will experience a silver bullet of prosperity, experience of towns already allowing ATV road use, property values along main routes, horses and motor vehicles sharing the same paths, etc.

Perhaps this study group might propose some compromises, whereby Three Lakes residents could access trails without changing the character of the town. A final analysis report and recommendations should be available to all.

In conjunction with an ATV road access study, a survey should be sent to all taxpayers to determine if opinions have changed since the Comprehensive Plan Committee survey was completed. This earlier survey revealed that approximately 70% of responding residents listed in order of preference — North Woods quiet, chain of lakes, nature/wildlife and lack of traffic, clean air and water — as the reasons they selected Three Lakes as their place to live.

This is an important issue, possibly changing the culture of Three Lakes. The town board needs to be mindful that it is accountable to Three Lakes taxpayers, not noncitizen ATVers who might pass through.

If the issue is handled with integrity and fairness by the town board, I believe most citizens will accept the outcome whether or not that outcome supports their personal views.

Joan Ross

Three Lakes

Tuesday, February 05, 2013 5:26 PM

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