JACKSON — Residents of a tiny town in Maine are asking questions about how a town leader opened new roads to ATV access last summer without holding a public hearing and without the presence of other selectboard members.

Most did not learn of the decision until a year later, when small signs were posted on several roads in Jackson, Maine, showing they were designated for ATV use, the Bangor Daily News reported Wednesday.

“I see these signs and I go, ‘What the hell is going on,’” Louise Shorette of Long Swamp Road in Jackson told the newspaper. The town has about 620 residents and is about 30 miles southwest of Bangor.

A subsequent town meeting was contentious.

“We tried to explain as diplomatically as we could that they should not have done this without public participation,” David McDaniel, another resident, said. “We don’t own the road, but neither does the ATV club, nor does the selectmen. The town owns the road.”

During the pandemic-related state of emergency last summer, the town temporarily canceled selectboard meetings and selectboard members conducted only essential town business like signing warrants and paying bills. Despite that decision, Selectman Bryan Menard signed the permits in August last year with neither of the two other members present and without any notice of a public meeting.

The select board now says that it will hold a vote for residents on ATV access at the annual town meeting in March 2022, but have not rescinded the permits. Previously, in 2008, residents voted against opening roads to ATV access at the annual meeting.

ATVs are allowed on trails in another section of the town. The owner of the Jackson Wheel N Ski Club, whose father became a selectboard member after the decision, said riders want better access to that trail system.

Phone calls made by the newspaper to selectboard members about how the decision was made were not returned. In Maine, municipalities govern local access for snow mobiles, ATVs and other recreational vehicles.

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