McKeesport council takes steps to revisit ATV ban
McKeesport council is reviewing potential revisions for a citywide recreational ATV ban that was approved in February.
In response to months of controversy that stemmed from recreational riding in Haler Heights, council approved, in a 4-3 vote, an ordinance prohibiting the use of recreational motor vehicles. Councilors A.J. Tedesco, Keith Soles, V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery and president Darryl Segina approved the ban, while Dan Carr, Richard J. Dellapenna and vice president Dale McCall dissented.
After a month of hearing residents' feedback on both sides of the issue, McCall presented a list of potential revisions to fellow councilors during Tuesday's caucus.
“I threw down some ideas on the amendment that I think we could work with,” McCall said. “It's nothing we have to jump on right now, but it's something we need to work on.”
McCall said he hopes to work flexibility into the ordinance that would allow people to do what they want with their own property, noting that a neighborhood dispute escalated to a citywide ban that in a way punishes people who were not upsetting neighbors in other parts of town.
Walker-Montgomery, who said last month that she approved the ban with the understanding that revisions would be made in coming months, said she wants a clearly defined zone where ATV and dirt bike riding would be permissible.
“I don't think (riding) should be in any residential areas because of the noise and the disturbance of the residents,” she said. “I've been looking at the zoning ordinance and a map to try to figure out some place we can designate.”
Walker-Montgomery suggested putting a price tag on the designated land's use by requiring permits or licenses to ride.
Solicitor J. Jason Elash said a designated area would require site preparation and insurance to cover potential rider injury. Removing the ban from certain zones that already exist on the city's zoning map, however, would permit riding without condoning it.
“If you want to designate an actual track or an actual tract of land and say this is where you can ride that the city owns, I think we are going to have to get some significant funding to make that happen,” Elash said.
Elash suggested examining current zoning districts to find a “hybrid” approach that would satisfy the concerns of riders as well as residents who don't want riding in strictly residential neighborhoods.
Tedesco said a residential-only ban would not satisfy concerns of the McKeesport Trail Commission and regional trail groups that say motorized recreational vehicles are damaging trails and land surrounding them.
Council president Darryl Segina directed McCall, Walker and Elash to research potential amendments and bring them back for further council discussion.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.