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MH council’s proposal on rec vehicles looks like classic over-reach

We suggest Mill Hall Borough Council not waste its own time and that of its residents by considering an ordinance amendment that would require a person to get the consent of their neighboring property owner before they ride a recreational vehicle on their own property.

The proposed expanded restriction just goes too far and infringes on people’s private property rights.

Sure, there should be regulations guiding the use of people’s properties, such as setbacks for fences and buildings, or use and development depending on whether the property is zoned residential, commercial or industrial. Most of those make sense.

And we get people’s desire to eliminate nuisances and to identify others who violate good laws by riding their recreational vehicles wherever and whenever they want regardless of those laws.

The borough’s existing ordinance approved in the fall of 2017 restricts ATVs, dirt bikes and other motorized recreational vehicles, including trail bikes, motor scooters, Mopeds and snowmobiles. The ban is meant to be restrictive, not punitive, council has said. The ordinance says they cannot be ridden in streets or on public or private property.

The exemptions are:

– Wheelchairs, scooters and similar equipment for people who need them.

– Lawn care, landscaping and snow removal equipment.

– Equipment used for business operations.

– Vehicles used by fire company or for other rescue purposes, and by the government and the military.

– Vehicles ridden in borough-sanctioned events.

The fine for the first offense, which is a summary offense, is $50 to $300, plus costs. The fine for each subsequent offense is $100 to $500, plus costs.

There should be simple restrictions to ‘keep the peace’ in local, residential communities.

But telling someone they cannot ride an ATV or dirt bike on their own property unless they have their neighbor’s consent is, well, over-reaching.

We look forward to hearing more about this proposal that apparently has support from a majority of council members.

But we caution against any over-reach of local government on people’s private property rights.

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