POUGHKEEPSIE – A public hearing for a proposed change to a city ordinance regarding off-road vehicles has been set by the common council. The public is invited to provide input on June 21, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. in a virtual meeting.
The proposed change to the law allows the police to impound any dirt bikes and ATVs operating on public highways and in public parks. It also forbids the operation of these vehicles on private property without the express consent of the owner or occupant of such property.
If caught, the vehicles can be impounded by the police. The titled owner will be required to show proof of ownership and pay a $2,000 redemption fee before getting the vehicle back. The owner also faces a $250 fine, 15 days in jail, or both. If the owner fails to pay the redemption fee, the vehicle will be destroyed.
Police Chief Tom Pape told the council that “The problem with unregistered, uninsured vehicles has grown exponentially,” and provided data to the lawmakers Monday night. More than 60 complaints regarding ATVs and off-road bikes have been fielded by police in the last year. Under the current law, according to Pape, the fines are not enough to prevent repeat behavior. “If we just impound them and return them, the problem will persist.” Currently, impounded vehicles are subjected to an impound fee of $200 and are subject to a violation fee. The proposed change will increase the impound fee to $2,000.
City Administrator Marc Nelson recently filmed a group of unauthorized vehicles riding in Waryas Park. The video, shown to council members Monday night, emphasized the need for changes to the law. Councilmember Chris Petsas said he supports the amendments but wants to hear from the public before voting on the changes. “This needs to be addressed but I want to hear the public’s input,” said the veteran lawmaker.