Trespassing ATVs and Snowmobiles Lead to Shots Fired

Farmers and North Branford residents spoke out at the Jan. 8 Town Council meeting with concerns over ATVs and snowmobiles being driven on their land.


After the North Branford Town Council breezed through its Jan. 8 agenda in about 40 minutes, the public comments then more than doubled the length of the meeting that was filled to capacity. Residents came out in force in support of two issues – school security (story to come) and concerns about ATV’s and snowmobiles on public and private property.

Three residents, including one representing the Agriculture Commission, spoke out about the “ongoing problem” of dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being used on farmland, private property and streets. The Agriculture Commission’s letter concluded by asking for the “Town Council’s involvement to help the farmers.”


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The topic got heated at several points in the discussion, particularly after discussion of shots being fired by a homeowner after a snowmobile rode on his property. North Branford Police Chief Matthew Canelli was present at the meeting and Council members asked him for details.

“It’s an open case so I can’t go into details,” said Canelli. “A homeowner got frustrated, fired a couple rounds from his shotgun. He was charged with numerous felony accounts.”

After the Council listened to the concerns, several members asked for suggestions for solutions. Residents suggested involving the DEEP and having a stronger police presence. Councilor Ron Siena asked the residents if they had filed complaints with the police department, noting “if it’s your neighbor, you have to step up – if you se something, say something.” The residents who spoke said they had not filed complaints.

Canelli reiterated the importance of the public’s help: “They have helmets, we can’t ID them. Once they go off roads, we can’t pursue them. If we do and they have an accident, we’ll be held liable. When we get the call, we go to the house and if they know who the culprit is and they give us a statement, we’ll do our due diligence and make an arrest.”

Bonnie Therrien, interim town manager, and Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker both offered to help find a solution, as well.

“I’ll be glad to sit with members of Agriculture Commission, get the police involved, talk to the DEEP, but it will never be 100 percent foolproof,” said Therrien.

Schoonmaker said that while he’s not a resident of the town, the ATV use affects school grounds, too. He also acknowledged the difficulty the police department faces as far as catching the riders.

“I don’t think students are being malicious – I think they’re just trying to have fun,” he said. “If we could get the [Agriculture] Commission together with the students and the students could hear the frustration from the farmers – maybe it’s worth trying.”

Rick January 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Wonderful. Someone does you wrong, pull out your gun. Great way to solve problems...
John January 14, 2013 at 01:36 PM
I don't have a problem with kids having fun with these vehicles, however my daughter, wife, and I were almost run down by a group of kids on them in the back of Northford park. They came around a turn at high speeds and almost took us out. Then they sped off and police could do nothing. So these vehicles are just as dangerous as a gun if not used properly and the police are useless to deter them. I agree some town land could be set aside for this use but they will continue to be a menace on walking trails.
NB Resident January 16, 2013 at 02:56 PM
People need to understand that we have been riding here forever. People way before our generation have been riding there so people who live around there need to accept it. Riding is fun and it is what we love. For us it is like a sport and to take that privelage away would be rediculous. Also if the police just let us be there would be no problems. The problems come when they chase us. I understand it isnt our property but when we get permission from the farmers it should be ok.
Jenn McCulloch January 18, 2013 at 02:24 PM
A bill proposing increasing fines for trespassing ATVs was introduced earlier this week: http://northbranford.patch.com/articles/sen-fasano-proposes-doubling-fines-for-trespassing-atvs#comments_list
Justice for all April 29, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Whatever happened with this case?


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