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by Susan Mikula Campbell
They've cast up dust on family barbecues, damaged farmer's crops, dug ruts in parks, and their noise has forced residents to close windows despite balmy weather.
In the wake of complaints, the Wheatfield Town Board on Monday approved up to $7,000 to provide about nine extra Niagara County Sheriff's Office ATV patrols to provide "stings" on those riding ATVs and motorcycles illegally.
The town's contract with the NCSO already provides ATV patrols in areas difficult to reach by car two or three times a year, according to Town Supervisor Bob Cliffe. He's hoping the additional patrols will help solve the growing problem of irresponsible ATV and motorcycle riders driving off-road in posted and private areas.
"We're not after the people driving legally," he noted.
Lakeside Drive resident Chet Sobotka reported that the noise from ATVs being driven in protected wetlands behind his home has "become intolerable" and that he is dissatisfied with the town's response thus far.
"This is a quiet and safe community," he said. "We can't keep our windows open at night."
Jeffrey Binga, president and region 9 director for the state Off-Highway Vehicle Association, offered to help the town in any way possible.
"We don't like it any better than you do," he said of irresponsible drivers.
He suggested the town consider a compromise by establishing legal riding trails, which his group could help police, as they have done in other areas, with trail cams that keep track of who is riding and at what time.
In other matters:
•Planning Board Chairman Richard Muscatello reviewed proposed additions to the town's sign and fence laws for public review. No action was taken. All proposed changes will be listed on the town's website.
"If you drive through the town, the number of sign violations becomes apparent," he said.
The additions in the sign law range from regulations for new LED and rear-projection electronic message display signs to temporary postings, such as notices for garage sales and other events. Regulations for temporary signs include maximum size, placement near road intersections and removal after the event.
As for the fence law, Muscatello said snow fences are allowed only from Nov. 1 to April 1, except for temporary protection, such as at a construction site; barbed wire is prohibited, and fences must not interfere with a driver's vision, such as at corner lots. The law also addresses minimum maintenance, fencing around swimming pools and acceptable materials.
•The town's annual Easter party, complete with Easter bunny, will begin at noon Saturday, March 31, at the Wheatfield Community Center next to Town Hall.
•Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon reported that the town's Easter break camp is about 75 percent sold out.
•The next Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 9. A work session with the town's focus groups will begin at 7 p.m.