Unfair attack on ATV riders

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Editor’s note: This is a copy of a letter to Dennis Township Committeeman Al Dicicco. Also, the letter writer is correct that All Terrain Vehicles can be insured and registered. The story should have instead indicated that they could not be made street legal.

To the editor:

I read with great interest the article in the Middle Township Gazette reporting Mr. Gary Gibson’s concerns over illegal use of all-terrain vehicles in the township, and your interest in the issue. I fully support the enforcement of illegal use of all-terrain vehicles and strongly support investigation into the criminal mischief Mr. Gibson has suffered.

I too have been to the Township Committee meetings dating back to 2009 concerning this issue, and publically addressed the committee on behalf of responsible ATV owners and the legal use of them on private land. I applaud you for adopting the township ordinance to reflect state law.

I would very much like information at the next committee meeting on the circumstance of how a subcommittee on ATVs came about, how members were chosen, who they report to, where to get a copy of their minutes, and how I may apply to be a member.

Mr. Gibson feels the mischief he suffered is in retaliation for his report of illegal operation of ATV’s on Gravel Hole Road. I propose the mischief was most likely caused by youth offenders, maybe ATV riders, maybe not. Yet Mr. Gibson, a retired NJ State Trooper, whom I would have expected to hold himself to high personal standards, retaliated against me, and at least eight families who own ATV’s in the area by alleging permanent modifications have been made to our private properties to accommodate ATV riding. As a result of the complaint Mr. Gibson placed, my property was inspected by a township official this past summer. The allegation was found to be absolutely false by the inspector. Not satisfied of the finding, I strongly suspect it was Mr. Gibson who then reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection that I, and others, had wetlands on our property which had been disturbed. A late summer Investigation of this allegation on these properties were also found to be false by the DEP Wetlands Inspector.

I find it ironic that Mr. Gibson feels he is a victim of retaliation by ATV riders, when in fact, the opposite is true. My allegations are documented, are Mr. Gibsons? I have never trespassed on Mr. Gibson’s property, yet he has trespassed on mine, even crossing other properties without permission to get to mine.

Has any trick or treater filed a police report about being “terrorized” by ATV riders on Gravel Hole Road as Mr. Gibson states happened?

ATV’s can be insured and registered in New Jersey, contrary to the reporter’s article and lack of fact checking. I am asking the editor to print a correction. Simple research on the state Department of Motor Vehicles website will verify this. So will my ATV registration and insurance documents. This however, does not allow their use on public roads or land.

I also take exception to Mr. Gibson’s statement to the Gazette concerning the “indifference to this issue that the committee has exhibited” Anyone in attendance at the committee hearings when the change to the ordinance was being considered, would know of the long public comment sessions the committee endured, considered, and after what I am sure was careful, informed discussion, acted upon. Mr. Gibson’s views where heard and considered as were those of all in attendance over the several committee meetings this issue took.

I am against all efforts to grant constabulary powers to code officials and emergency management personnel. This is a slippery slope best not even entertained, and I feel once started, can escalate very rapidly creating many future legal and liability problems for the township. Not to mention the prospective cost which could be incurred and escalate over the years.

Mr. Gibson states many times and in several different ways in the article, that the township has done nothing. This statement cannot be farther than the truth. Mr. Gibson is upset that the greater good has prevailed, and our liberties upheld, proving again that in this great democracy we call the United States of America; one cannot force his views arbitrarily on others. I understand Mr. Gibson is madder than a wet hen, and has been used to getting his way when he was a state trooper and enforcing our laws, but now needs to be a good citizen and stop harassing his responsible neighbors who own ATVs and let the current crop of the NJ State Police do their job of enforcing our ordinances and laws. They are the most well trained, technology advanced, and personally responsible crop of officers the state has ever employed.

While I am at a point in life I where can afford memberships fees and travel to ATV parks in Pennsylvania with my children and grandchildren, camper, and trailer full of ATV’s, I suspect it is youthful riders and young families who cannot afford to do so causing the majority of the illegal riding issues. I submit it is not too late for Mr. Gibson to reach out to the youth in his neighborhood, organize and spearhead a movement to open public land in New Jersey for ATV riding. The state has reneged on previous promises and legislation to open such facilities. With acres and acres of public land here in South Jersey his never wavering pursuits would be better directed toward legislative changes at the state level, and at the same time he could continue in public service to his community, once again be a positive role model, and have a positive impact on our kids, our future.

Don Austin

Cape May Court House

 


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