ANDOVER — Since granting access early last month to all-terrain vehicles for two sections of town roads, Andover selectmen have worried about liability implications.

On April 7, selectmen opened two sections of South Arm Road and North Main Street to ATV traffic while the Roxbury ATV Riders Club is building a new trail to Upton.

Selectman Keith Farrington said they needed access going up North Main Street to where the new trail will start. They can’t use a different route to get there because a bridge is being taken out, he said. Additionally, active logging operations are underway in the area.

At Wednesday night’s board meeting, Farrington told the board and audience, which included Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole, that Farrington and others have voiced concerns that allowing ATVs and logging trucks to use the same roads isn’t a good idea.

“Is there any move afoot to standardize ATV access to roads in towns countywide?” Farrington asked of Cole.

Cole was asked to attend the meeting to address taxing and assessment matters involving Andover and winter and summer road work in the unorganized townships of East B Hill and South Arm.

“There’s a lot of ATV use up there,” Farrington said of the unorganized townships that Andover provides with fire protection and road needs, which is reimbursed by the county.

“We shut them off once and now we’ve opened (road access) back up on a trial basis, but I’m wondering if the county or somebody else I don’t know about is looking into some kind of standardized way to deal with that picture,” he said.

Cole said that would be better answered by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “The county commissioners, they’ve OK’d South Arm and East B (roads) for ATVS, but they’re very liberal with their approach. With ATVs, whatever the law says for maximum activity, commissioners will back that.

“But with that said, in this situation, they would think about what Andover’s policy is, but your question is the larger picture,” Cole said. “We’re just another voice.”

“Yeah, we make them ride on the side (of the road) and we have problems with them tearing up the edges of the road,” Farrington said. “If they’re in the road, then we have people complaining about them being there and raising insurance questions and that kind of thing. It’s kind of tough to go that on your own as a municipality like, ‘We’re going to write our own little rule and be our own little bubble here.'”

“It probably makes sense to figure out whatever you want in your bubble, and then have the county mirror that,” Cole said.

He said he believes the commissioners wouldn’t have any objections. “I don’t have a good answer. I don’t know. We can weave it together or figure something out if you want.”

“It is an issue, Cole said. “Is there a way to make people who ride on ATVs on our roads have insurance?” Farrington asked Cole. “Or is there a way that the state would cover like they did with snowmobiles and liability issues . . . If we say, ‘Yeah, you can ride on our roads,’ and then something happens.”

“My understanding of those statutes, it’s tough to bring a tort claim against towns,” Cole said. “It gets more complicated when you add motor vehicles. We’ve taken calls from logging outfits working up in the area complaining about the ATVs or they stop short of saying this is a complaint. But you’ve got to know that there are more sides to this issue.

“We had a driver call us tell us that we almost had a very bad accident up on South Arm,” Cole said.

He said he will take Farrington’s concerns under advisement to bring before the commissioners.

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