Paris selectmen table ATV decision after heated debate

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PARIS — A request to allow temporary use of Parsons Road led to a heated exchange between ATV club members and one selectman Monday. Selectmen eventually agreed to take action on the matter at the May 23 meeting.

The board agreed to abide by its new policy for non-standard use of roads, but not before a heated discussion and a pause in the meeting while the town manager spoke in private with both parties on the ATV issue.

Members of the X-tra Mile ATV Club as well as James and Paula Hakala announced they had reached a compromise. The club would use East Oxford Road and a section of Parsons Road passing their home for the month of June while working on another trail that would avoid the Hakalas’ home altogether, thanks to an agreement with several landowners.

ATV club trailmaster and Board of Selectmen candidate John Goodwin had filled out the new Application for Non-Standard Use of Public Roads and Property, requesting the board allow them to use part of Parsons Road from June 1 to July 1 while they completed a new trail.

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James Hakala, who had previously been at odds with the board, said he and his wife “are quite satisfied with the results.” He said a month of ATV use was worth it to put the issue to bed forever.

Selectman Jean Smart said she was concerned that by approving use of the road without going through the process laid out in the new non-standard use applications, the board would not be following its own rules. She suggested a need to notify other landowners who would live near the ATVs and hold a public hearing before granting use.

“I just think, for the benefit of everybody, we need to follow, the policy of the board and not be slipshod about it,” Smart said.

Goodwin said he was about to start work on the new trail and didn’t want to go home without temporary approval to use Parsons Road.

“I have an alternate route,” Goodwin said, that doesn’t require permission from the town because it uses less than 300 yards of Parsons Road before going onto private property.

“It brings me right in front of the Hakalas’ house. If that’s what you’d like, I’ll take that route tomorrow.” He said the trail for that route is already in place. “I’m trying to do the right thing and leave the Hakalas alone. I need 30 days to do it, and then they’ll never hear from me again.”

“Or, I can sign a five-year lease and go right in front of their house for five years.”

“That sounds like a threat,” Smart said. “That isn’t OK with me.”

Goodwin said he didn’t want to wait any longer. “I need an answer tonight. If I don’t have an answer tonight, I’m taking the alternate route. I need to start building a trail and it should have started a week ago.”

At one point, he said if Smart asked one more question, he would withdraw the request and use a route passing the Hakalas’ home.

Smart said she refused to OK use of the road without using the new process.

Town Manager Phil Tarr asked to stop the meeting, and he, James and Paula Hakala, John Goodwin and his father, Cliff Goodwin, went to Tarr’s office for about five minutes. When they returned, selectmen agreed to complete all steps laid out in the non-standard use application to decide on whether to grant permission at the May 23 meeting.

Selectmen voted to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. before the selectmen’s meeting on May 23 at the Town Office.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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