Brooke County commissioners addressed complaints about all-terrain vehicles this week, considering issues such as trespassing, damage to private property, disturbances at night and residents' failure to pay property tax for the vehicles.
The county's planning commission has asked the commission to require ATV owners to register their vehicles through the county assessor's office. It's a move planning commission members say will help to identify ATV riders who break the law and ensure the county receives its fair share of tax revenue.
But not all of the county commissioners are convinced that is the answer.
Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said he supports any measure that would promote ATV safety, noting a young man was killed while riding an ATV in St. Clairsville on Sunday. But he said he doesn't believe the property tax on ATVs, though it's already in place, is fair. Andreozzi noted that unlike automobiles, ATVs aren't permitted on most roads.
"What's next - riding lawn mowers, bicycles?" he asked regarding taxes.
Ruby Greathouse, a member of the planning commission, said a registration sticker on ATVs could help identify a rider who has fallen unconscious from an accident as well as one who is breaking the law. Greathouse said ATV riders harass users of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail, where ATVs are prohibited, and in recent years caused damage to the Brooke Hills Park golf course.
Ken Fletcher, a member of the Brooke Hills Park board, confirmed ATV riders caused about $30,000 in damage to one area of the course. He said no one saw the riders because it happened overnight.
Andreozzi and others have noted it could be difficult to read registration stickers on ATVs traveling at a fast speed and not accessible to police cruisers.
Commission President Tim Ennis said the commissioners are "naive" if they think all ATV owners will register their vehicles. While the county assessor's office receives notice when a state title is issued for a vehicle purchased by a local resident, it's not notified when an ATV is purchased.
"If there was an easy solution, the problem would have been solved a long time ago," Ennis said.