During their regular meeting on Monday night, the Colebrook selectmen voted to open up several more roads to ATV use, including all of Main Street. ATV travel on those streets that are state highways must receive approval by the Department of Transportation.
The town roads now open are Roaring Brook, Harvey Swell, East Colebrook, Bear Rock, Bennett Hill, Reed Road from the junction of Bear Rock and Cree roads to Forbes Hill and Ramsey Road. State roads that the town approved are Diamond Pond Road from Heath Road to Route 26; Route 26 from Route 3 to The Old Appletree; all of Bridge Street; and Route 3 from Northern Outlets to Lemieux Garage.
At a public hearing on May 19, voters showed support for the Metallak ATV Club's request to open the roads with a vote of 52-1 in a straw poll. At Monday night's meeting, selectman Jules Kennett said he had some reservations about opening the roads, including safety concerns, but if the public supported the measure, then he would, too. "I can't not allow it," he said. "I have reservations on safety and I hope the club isn't moving too fast."
Selectman Bob Holt said he is in favor of ATVs but had safety concerns about the proposal. He felt that ATVs should fall under the same laws as motor vehicles, and said that in a few years they would continue to grow and be a step away from a Jeep.
"This is going to impact the town in a lot of ways," he said. "I'm not against it, but the industry has not kept up with the times." He was concerned that a 12-year-old rider can be on the roads if accompanied by a licensed adult. He also asked how everything was going to be enforced, and club president Craig Washburn noted that the Coös County Sheriff's Department has been doing patrols along with Fish and Game.
Mr. Holt also said having some roads open and some not would be confusing, and said he would rather see all roads open. Mr. Washburn said the club will sign the trails and local roads, while the state will put up signs on their roads.
Mr. Holt moved to approve the use of the listed roads as presented with the stipulation that it would be for a term of one year, after which the board will review it. Mr. Washburn and Mr. Kennett both thought this arrangement was fair. Selectman Ray Gorman did not believe the one-year stipulation was necessary. In the end, the vote passed 2-0. (As chairman, Mr. Kennett does not vote unless required to break a tie.) Mr. Holt requested a monthly report from the police department that details all OHRV actions in towns from all state agencies, and the board passed the motion.