by Andrea Cole
Stow -- While some residents believe noise from off-road vehicles is too loud, others believe the use of off-road vehicles should not be limited.
Stow City Council is considering legislation that would limit the times off-road vehicles are allowed in residential areas. The legislation was discussed during City Council's Roads and Safety Committee meeting Jan. 22.
If legislation is approved, the use of off-road vehicles and snowmobiles would be limited in residential areas to between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Additionally, the use of off-road vehicles would not be permitted within 100 feet of a residence at any time.
There currently are not time or distance restrictions for the use of off-road vehicles in residential areas in Stow, according to Clerk of Council Bonnie Emahiser.
Council began discussing the proposed legislation in December after Compton Court residents complained about noise from an off-road motorcycle, belonging to Doug O'Brien, on a Fishcreek Road residence.
Police Chief Louis Dirker said the department has received complaints from residents about noise from off-road vehicles throughout the city, but Stow does not have legislation to address the complaints.
According to the proposed legislation, a first offense is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $100, and a second offense could result in up to 30 days in prison or a maximum fine of $250.
O'Brien said his 8-year-old son rides a "small motorcycle to practice for races" on the 2.5-acre property.
"I think we're moving forward in the right direction," he said. "Excluding Sunday [from the legislation] is the only part I have a problem with. My son rides during the hours [that would be permitted]."
During the Roads and Safety meeting, Councilmember Ron Alexander said he believes the 100-foot restriction could be changed.
"I have rethought the 100 feet restriction, because this would practically restrict anyone from using these vehicles," he said. "I think there could be some limitation, [such as] 20 feet."
Stow resident Kendra Boulton said if the 100-foot restriction is approved, her children would not be permitted to ride their minibikes.
"I have a neighbor who rides an outdated lawnmower, and I have a neighbor who uses an electric saw," she said. "These have very high decibel levels. I consider noise to be part of living in suburbia."
Compton Court resident Lori Inglezakis, who lives near the residence, said she supports the legislation.
"I think it is a violation of our rights to have to hear the noise," she said. "The riding has continued throughout the winter. I think the noise has to be controlled in some way."
Compton Court resident Paul Cosgrove agreed, station, "It is a tremendous noise problem, and our property values are being affected."
However, Stow resident Kevin Herring said he believes the legislation is addressing what should be "a neighborhood issue."
"I have never had complaints from my neighbors," said Herring, stating his son also rides a small motorcycle. "In the past, when cities have had problems with loud car stereos did they outlaw cars? No, they addressed the real issue of excessive noise. Modern motorcycles are designed to meet strict federal guidelines for sound emission so they can be operated in private and public areas without being offensive."
Councilmember John Wysmierski said while he understands the noise is a concern for residents, it is a "neighborhood dispute."
"We are trying to regulate something [that affects] two, three or five neighbors for the entire city," he said. "I am having a tough time trying to justify the legislation."
Council Vice President Jim Costello said Monday, "I have very mixed feelings about [the legislation] being as restrictive as the ordinance is."
The proposed legislation is expected to be discussed during Council's next Roads and Safety Committee meeting, which had not been scheduled at press time.