Massachusetts man fights city hall over back yard ATV trails

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A man in Middleboro, Mass., says his city government will have to take him to court if they want him to stop letting ATV riders use his property.

The town claims Thomas Stevens is running an illegal ATV track on trails behind his home. He says they can’t prove he’s done anything wrong.

“They’ll have to fight this out in court,” he told the Taunton Daily Gazette. “I’m going to challenge it. They will waste money and they’re going to lose because they can’t prove I’m charging money.”

The Conservation Commission and city building inspector’s office have issued him a cease-and-desist order. The Conservation Commission building the ATV trails is a wetlands violation.

Stevens contends that the changes he made to his property do not constitute a proper ATV track. He says a real track would include structures such as buildings, fencing, lights and concession stands.

“I don’t consider this a track,” Stevens said. “This is like a horse trail.” In August, Stevens began advertising his operation on Craigslist. One ad said membership cost $450. Stevens has since said that was a typographical error; he meant to say he was charging $50 a year to recover the cost of building the trail. Since the city put him on notice last month, he says he has stopped letting riders other than family and friends use the trails. The city says he needs a permit to allow riding, even for free.

“I don’t think they have the right to regulate whether I can drive ATVs on my land, or butt into my business,” Stevens says. “I can invite over anyone I want as long as I don’t charge money.”

Posted by Holly Wagner