Town of Chelsea – Public Informational Hearing – Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Monday, July 25, 2022 at 7pm in the Chelsea Town Hall
Selectboard Members present: Levar Cole, Mark Whitney, Merrill Whitney, Geoff Clayton
Other Town Employees present: Marianne McCann (Administrative Assistant)(Herald)
Members of the public present:
- Chris Byrne, 2. Diane Mattoon, 3. Pam Keyser, 4. Suzanne Turner, 5. Carolyn Boothroyd, 6. Jean Brown, 7. Richard Mattoon, 8. Mary Jane Kennedy, 9. Sally Hostetler, 10. Heidi Chapman, 11. Andy Pomerantz, 12. Jilda Pomerantz, 13. Alan Flint, 14. Linda Kuban, 15. Dennis Boardman, 16. Elizabeth Boardman, 17. Kylie Eastman, 18. Jeffrey Eastman, 19. Tom Stearns, 20. Bernard Downing, 21. Rick Allen, 22. Roy Hayward, 23. Tim Ward, 24. Douglas Stone, 25. Nick Defriez, 26.Tim Courts, 27. Cheryl MacNeill, 28. John Ducharme, 29. Linda Ducharme, 30. Mark Vermette
- Call Meeting to Order
Levar Cole, convened the meeting at 7:02 pm.
- Additions or Deletions to the Agenda
- Review and discuss Article 1: Shall the Town of Chelsea disapprove the “Town of Chelsea Ordinance
Regulating All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)” adopted March 15, 2022?
Levar Cole made an opening statement, clarifying the purpose of this informational meeting is to discuss
the vote on the ATV ordinance disapproval petition, which will take place tomorrow, July 26, 2022 via
Mark Whitney reviewed the timeline of events that led up to the adoption of the ATV ordinance and the
petition to disapprove the ATV ordinance.
The initial request to open up a small section of two town roads to ATV use was made April 20, 2021.
The Selectboard appointed a committee made up of two Selectboard members, and six members of the
public. The ATV committee met 6 times. The deadline for making an ATV ordinance recommendation to
the Selectboard was December 31, 2021. The ATV ordinance was adopted by the Selectboard on March
15, 2022. On April 21, 2022, a petition was received to disapprove the ATV ordinance.
Mark Whitney made statements about the ATV Ordinance in order to clear up any miscommunication in
the green mailer. The two people on the committee who missed the vote did so intentionally. ATV use
of town roads had been brought up many times in the past. The previous Selectboard chose to act on
ATVs, and not pass over the issue. Currently, ATVs on town roads are not legal. The ATV ordinance
would make ATVs legal on just the roads covered in the ordinance. VASA does not have any plans to
expand trails. The speed limit for ATVs in Chelsea would be 25 mph on class 3 roads, and 15 mph on
class 4 roads.
Andy Pomerantz stated he was one of the authors of the green mailer. Pomerantz stated the most
important thing to him was the group of manufacturers of ATV vehicles (name?) specifically states ATVs
are not made to share the roads with cars. They are very unstable. About enforcement, ATVs traveling
on roads not opened by the ATV Ordinance are subject to civil fines. I was chair of the selectboard when
one of the previous proposals came from Williamstown. Royalton has a plan to connect to Tunbridge
Tim Ward asked if the meeting can be accessed by Zoom tonight. (No.) Ward stated he spoke to law
enforcement officials who did not know about the meeting tonight. Ward stated any experienced rider
on an ATV can stop quickly, quicker than a car. There may be confusion on how we vote. What does a
yes vote mean? What does a no vote mean?
Levar Cole stated the State of Vermont says we need to use the language of the petition for the ballot. A
Yes vote means disapprove the ordinance. A No vote means do not disapprove (approve) the ordinance.
Tim Ward asked, so if you want to support the ordinance, you vote no to support the ordinance? (A No
vote means you do not disapprove the ordinance.) Is that going to be explained outside the building?
Levar Cole stated we are limited on what information we can put inside the polling place.
Todd Hoffman stated we need to avoid taking the easy way to get something done. If the Selectboard
had avoided the easy way, you’d have done nothing, rather than do a little something. I want to take in
the dissenting voice to get to the end result. In Chelsea, we have no enforcement, so all of this means
nothing, because there is no policing. I’m concerned the ATVs will cut through fields. Animals might be
disturbed. To make a law without enforcement means nothing. This is the nature of the game.
Mark Whitney stated the committee scheduled a vote. If one chooses not to vote, one chooses not to
vote. If the two people were at the meeting with the vote, and voted no, it still would have passed. ATV
riding on any VASA trail would be enforced by Fish and Game. The Sheriff and State Police are available
Levar Cole stated the whole point of the committee was that this is something the town has been
considering on and off for 20 years. If there is that much concern, we should have a broad base of
opinion, so we created a committee. It is not easy to do government by committee. The committee did a
Tim Courts asked what are the rules right now?
Levar Cole stated The State of Vermont made some type of change in the recent past, so that now your
town government needs to be permissive. Your town needs to have an ordinance to allow you to ride
ATVs on town roads.
Tim Courts asked does the town have authority over age limits? What about minors on ATVs? How does
Doug Stone stated a 12 year old can drive after a safety class and with a licensed driver. ATV drivers are
supposed to be 16 to drive by themselves.
Tim Courts asked, so if this ordinance would continue, class 4 roads would be open to all ATVs?
Levar Cole stated, no, not all roads, only the ones specifically mentioned in the ordinance.
Heidi Chapman stated before, all class 4 roads were open to ATVs. Then, the State of Vermont decided
not to sanction that anymore. I could see it was going to be a devisive thing and I wanted to have my
hands on the process. I was at every committee meeting. For some of us it was a frustrating and difficult
problem to solve. Mark Whitney kept pushing for writing an ordinance and we weren’t getting there.
We were spinning our wheels. It was determined we were going to write an ordinance. We asked to
extend our committee work. We had one more meeting and two of us were not able to make it. Two of
us got a copy of the ordinance sent to us the day of the meeting. I sent in my response. My big question
is what was the big hurry? Why couldn’t we take more time to write a better ordinance?
Levar Cole stated there was no hurry, per se. The board made a decision not to continue by extending
the committee deadline. That is the busiest time for the Selectboard, for doing the budget. There was
already an argument, so why let it drag out. The board set the date so that we can proceed or not
Chris Byrne asked, can you tell us when the date was picked?
Levar Cole stated we had an end date set at the beginning of the committee. Mary Ellen Parkman tried
to get people involved. We knew we had to get this done. We were not interested in kicking the can
down the road for another 20 years. The Selectboard record shows the dates.
Chris Byrne asked, when was the committee formed?
Heidi Chapman stated the committee was formed and then the meetings were held.
Susan Hoffman asked why was it not put to the town vote? Second question is about policing this, we
really do not have any police presence in Chelsea. I have no faith about policing any of this. What 12
year old is really going to follow the rules? Allow us to have a real process. That’s not a real process that
feels comfortable to me. It wasn’t anymore right 20 years ago than it is now. I just see it spreading into
Levar Cole stated regarding a town vote, that was discussed at several Selectboard meetings. We would
have a town vote, but the town cannot vote on an ordinance that does not exist. This was not brought
up at Town Meeting. No one brought this issue up at Town Meeting. I was hoping we might have some
discussion at Town Meeting. We were told by opponents to this ordinance that they would bring up the
issue at Town Meeting.
Mark Whitney stated regarding the policing, I stated the levels of enforcement. I don’t know what to tell
you beyond that. If there is a fatality, the State Police will respond. The State Police will not come out to
see if an ATV is speeding or not.
Susan Hoffman stated it is irresponsible to set something up that is going to happen.
Kylie Eastman thanked all the people who worked for the town and the committee members. Eastman
appreciated the process. Eastman asked, if approved, is there signage that goes up?
Mark Whitney stated VASA will provide signage stating the speed limits on the roads.
Frank Keyser stated the age limit that was mentioned seems ridiculous to have children on such
powerful machines. He asks if the Selectboard envisions this will be a recreational center to come and
mud bog. Keyser is concerned the trails will be ruined.
Mark Whitney responded there are no plans for an ATV Mecca or more trails at this point.
Linda Kuban stated she was on the committee. At the first meeting she came with a file folder of
negative papers about ATV vehicles. After research and going out for a ride with a group, Kuban
observes all ATV statistics are not necessarily what we see. There are no clear results for sccidents with
side by sides. Every accident I have been to has been a front and back. Right now, people ride illegally. If
this goes through, they will still be riding illegally. There was every opportunity for the public to attend
meetings. The committee seemed quite unbiased. Regarding law enforcement, monitoring ATVs is part
of the Game Wardens job. There should be more law enforcement up there. We will get more policing,
not less. We (the committee) were emphatic about coming back to the Selectboard in the late fall and
see how it went.
Chris Byrne stated yes, people do ride on the trails.
Linda Kuban stated how can we evaluate the results? People had a chance to speak and nobody came to
Jill Pomerantz asked if the ordinance specifies the end time as 10 pm. So, a 12 year old child could ride
an ATV after dark?
Mark Whitney stated riding ends on October 15th. 10 pm was the reasonable hour that we came up
Bob Frenier stated he resented being called an “anti-ATV lobby”, in the minutes of one of the meetings.
Frenier stated he has lived here for 30 years. He has seen many people ride ATVs. Now you have created
an ordinance that tells those people they will be fined for riding. Leave them alone. The other thing is
you are setting it up for thousands of other ATV riders. Nothing good has come out of it that I can see.
Levar Cole stated the tens of public emails that you (Bob Frenier) have sent are available for the public
Bob Frenier stated it is always about the people that you don’t know.
Levar Cole stated there was a reference to the East Hill Community Association in the emails that was
lobbying against ATVs anywhere.
Dennis Boardman stated he has a problem with ATVs going by his house. They come up the road going
about 60 mph and somebody is going to get hurt. They have to be arrested. If the Game Wardens have
too much to do, what are we supposed to do? They tell me to call the State Police. We have to catch
them in the act. I don’t care if you want to ride on the roads, but drive slow.
Mark Whitney stated there is no place for any reckless operation of any motor vehicle. That’s why you
must catch them in the act. There cannot be an arrest or a fine on someone’s word.
Dennis Boardman asked why the Selectboard doesn’t offer the Sheriff more money, so that they will
Levar Cole stated we would need to pay at least $200,000. to set up a Police Department for Chelsea.
Mark Whitney discussed hours and costs of additional Orange County patrols. Whitney explained you
can pay if you want, but OCSD does not have staff to meet the need.
Dennis Boardman asked if you are trying to say it will cost $200,000 to have more patrol officers?
Mark Whitney stated he spoke with Sheriff Bill Boynak, and was told he struggles to have enough people
to patrol as much as Chelsea asks for now. Hartland paid way more to get more patrol time. We can get
more police, but it will make the taxes go up.
Geoff Clayton stated OCSD only does traffic control. They will not respond to dangerous situations.
There could be two sums. One to get more actual policing, and another to get traffic control.
Alan Flint stated he lives on the same road as Dennis Boardman. In the past two years traffic has
increased noticeably. What do we do? It’s a no win situation.
Linda Kuban stated she had an incident and the Orange County Sheriff came to her residence. Kuban got
to know Heidi Chapman. We disagree on this issue, but we can stay friends. We are all here because we
care about the community.
Mark Vermette stated he lives past the Creamery Bridge. I hear everyone talking about 12 year olds. I
have coached many teams over the years. I would not be concerned about the youth. I would worry
more about the adult that’s drinking. I live right at the bridge. Probably most of you drive 40 miles per
hour there. Someone was doing 70 when he went by my house. I have no control over the roads. There
are no State Police out on the highways anywhere. Last I knew, Vermont welcomes people from other
states. ATVs cost 10 to 30,000 dollars. We may not get a lot of riff-raff. You have to worry about
mudders. You will always have somebody that is going to want to come and cause trouble.
Snowmachine clubs take care of the trails. Have a little faith in the people. If we have the ordinance, in 6
months or a year, we will have to revisit.
Jeff Eastman stated he has experience riding on Vershire trails. He has had an ATV for 11 years. He has
never seen another ATV on the trail. The most ATVs I’ve seen has been when I went on a ride. I’ve met
more Jeeps and vehicles than I’ve ever met ATVs. I do not think it will be a constant run.
Pam Keyser stated we are talking about catching them in the act. Can’t you take a video? Is that
permissible for police action?
Geoff Clayton stated we have issues with serious crime, the police are overloaded, they will say they are
looking into it. You are seeing a higher threshold of serious crimes. A cell phone video might not help.
Carol Frenier stated a yes vote is a vote to disapprove the ordinance. If you are not sure, vote yes, and it
will give the town time to step back and reconsider and work on their ordinance.
Alan Flint asked why are they allowing them on state aid class 2 roads?
Geoff Clayton stated a red car that was speeding now tends to slow down. A silver Mazda was going too
fast, now I notice they are driving the speed limit. There is nothing we can do. But, you never know, if
you catch somebody and talk to them, you might effect a little change.
Doug Stone stated he was from the Westshire ATV Club. The VASA president and I came to the Chelsea
Selectboard about 19 years ago and we did not get a response. This time, I was approached by Chelsea
residents who encouraged me to ask again. I asked for those roads because it connects to our trails. I
figured it would give us two figure eights. It was asked by Chelsea residents. I was just the tool that
asked the question. About kids, they are not allowed to cross state roads. You need a helmet, you need
insurance, you need a state registration, and a VASA membership, if you ride on VASA trails. These are
people that are willing to pay to play. The other law in Vermont is that there is no modified exhaust
whatsoever. As far as safety, there is a warning on your mattress, but you sleep every night. Everything
has a safety tag on it.
Mark Whitney stated he spoke with Jeff Whipple. Whipple patrolled Chelsea roads several times.
Whipple was looking into getting a decibel meter. He said he is actively out there looking at these
violations. As the trail system grows, they will put out more officers.
Pam Keyser asked if you are riding on private property with illegal exhaust can you get ticketed? On
their own property? No.
Tim Courts stated it sounds like there is a little bit of enforcement. Sometimes they go on main street to
get gas. It does articulate the penalties, but there is no enforcement. So, we have a problem with a few
ATVs. What are we going to do? What is the advantage to the town? Does it cost us? It seems like
enforcement is a problem. And it seems like where we are heading is increasing the problem.
Mark Whitney stated if VSP said we don’t have any cops today, you can’t drive your car today, are you
going to stay home? Follow the logic. The Game Wardens are out there. Game Wardens can patrol ATV
issues as well as wildlife violations. If it becomes a problem, then we will deal with it.
Levar Cole stated I don’t think the previous board took any steps to encourage (an ordinance).
Tim Courts stated he does not understand the advantage to the town.
Linda Kuban stated who wants to ride in a circle all day? We have absolutely no control over the Jeeps
and the mud trucks that go on all the class 4 roads. At least with the 4 wheelers we have some control.
Alan Flint stated we cannot do anything about it. ATVs are operated unsafely and speeding. There are a
lot of kids in town. Please tell them to slow down. If you will open more roads in town, will you make the
town a map showing the roads open for ATVs? Please pass the word everywhere to get people to slow
Heidi Chapman stated maybe we should consider the 200,000 police officer. Or consider temporary
speed signs. I also talked with Jeff Whipple about ATVs. He could have had this conversation with
everybody. If a town has designated VASA trails, VASA hires the local game warden, and Jeff Whipple
would increase his hours accordingly. Jeff either fields calls directly, or the club president fields calls,
trouble areas are identified, then Jeff does a stakeout. If anyone tries to outrun, there is a huge fine, and
they lose their hunting license. What is the process for someone who finds an ATV with a problem?
Whose number is available for a call? In Williamstown they went through a long process and it’s written
in the ordinance that the Selectboard does an annual review the ordinance. Also, people can appeal an
open road, based on things not going well.
Mark Whitney stated call 911 if it’s a motor vehicle.
Doug Stone stated call 911 State Police. Whipple is dispatched from the Royalton Barracks. VASA is
putting more money into the Game Warden for law enforcement.
Jeff Eastman stated the local club fixes trails and VASA does too. VASA has their own dump truck and
Levar Cole asked if anyone else would like to speak?
Heidi Chapman asked I’m curious how you feel about this opening up and what this is going to do for
Jeff Eastman stated I have trails all over my property, so mostly I ride there. Very seldom have I ever met
another ATV. I have trails and I ride on my road.
Heidi Chapman asked if the board was going to review the ordinance after the first season.
Levar Cole stated as long as I am on the board, I can make sure that we put that on the agenda, to
review the results.
Geoff Clayton stated we were always going to review it. That’s why it was such a small section of roads.
It’s better to have everybody a little bit disgruntled, because otherwise you are pandering to somebody.
If we could all just generally agree with how we want things to be, we could move forward with many
issues, not just the ATVs.
Levar Cole asked a question to the public for feedback. Should I have not advocated for a committee? A
lot of people in town said that the Selectboard should just go ahead and make an ordinance and then let
the town sort it out. I’m asking you. I think this group will say no.
Andy Pomerantz stated committees are legendary for accomplishing nothing. You could have just
written an ordinance and brought it to the town at the town meeting.
Jeff Eastman stated he worked in healthcare for many years, and everytime we created a committee,
that issue died.
Levar Cole stated when people showed up for it, then we thought we should have a committee.
Chris Byrne asked is this the best process? Who knows? Probably why you got so much pushback was
because it was such a small area that was requested to be open.
Kylie Eastman stated she can make a solid argument pro or con committee on many topics. At town
meetings it can be tabled so quickly that a discussion cannot occur. The goal is to facilitate discussion at
the town meeting or the committee meetings. Town Meeting is the only way to make that happen.
- Adjourn Hearing
Meeting adjourned at 9:01 pm.