OTISFIELD — A newly formed ATV Club is looking for public road access.
A public hearing on the request has been set for Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Community Hall opn Route 121.
The group – known as the Otisfield Trail Blazers ATV Club – is hoping to get permission to use 7.8 miles of public roads in Otisfield for ATV use during the ATV season, which is designated as May 15 through Dec. 5 in Maine.
In July, the board met with several residents interested in forming an ATV club in Otisfield and representatives of clubs in Oxford and Casco.
At that time, they told the selectboard that once the club has established five miles of trails, it is eligible for $3,000 in state funding for trail maintenance.
“We can start a club using state funds but we need road access,” Bill Sprague told selectmen last week when he returned to the board to continue discussions.
Sprague said the club hopes to run their vehicles off road as much as possible but need access to some public ways to hook up trails.
“Our goal is to have the resources and funding to make it better for everybody,” he said.
The club’s request for public road access includes 0.6 miles on Bolsters Mill Road from Days Country Store to Jesse Mills Road; 1.5 miles on Jesse Mills Road from Bolsters Mill Road to Tamworth Road; 2 miles on Tamworth Road from Jesse Mills Road to Oak Hill Road; 1.3 miles on Oak Hill Road from Tamworth Road to Trail Head at the corner of Oak Hill Road and Bishop Road.
Also included are 0.9 miles on West Andrews Hill Road from the dirt part of Ahonen to the top of the hill; 0.5 miles on East Andrews Hill Road from the discontinued section to the intersection of Gore and Bonney Hill roads; 0.4 miles on the abandoned section of Andrews Road, and 0.6 miles on Bonney Hill Road from Andrews Road to where the Oxford ATV club takes over.
Selectman Len Adler said there was resistance to the local area snowmobile clubs having access on public roads years ago but that fear has subsided as the clubs have proven to be respectful of the roadways.
John Hawley, former town manger in Mechanic Falls, submitted an open letter to community leaders earlier this year to gain support for the Boghooters ATV Club when that club sought using public rights of ways for their vehicles.
In the letter, which was submitted to Otisfield selectmen last week, Hawley said the club was approached several years ago to request passage on public roads.
During the debate, there was concern on the part of municipal administrators that the ATVs would create a public nuisance and damage the roads, Hawley wrote in his April 14, 2015, letter.
In the end, the ATV club “lived up to its promises” and with very few exceptions, the club has been extremely respectful of the conditions and environments that members are using, he said.
“I’m willing to give it a try,” Adler said.
The public hearing for the Otisfield club is expected to be scheduled for the Community Hall on Route 121 sometime in November.