Mentor City Council and administration discussed the possibility of amending the city's noise ordinance so it addressed ATVs, dirt bikes and similar vehicles during a work session Tuesday at .
While no final decisions were made Tuesday, City Manager Kenneth Filipiak wanted to gauge the council members' opinions on the topic.
Filipiak said that while the city does not get a lot of complaints about ATVs and other small vehicles, those who do call about it tend to be very frustrated.
"We receive these complaints on a regular basis," he said. "We've been frustrated over the years because we don't have a great way to address them."
While the city code does not allow people to drive motor scooters, ATVs and the like on Mentor streets, there is no rule against their use on private property.
Consequently, if a person says their neighbor is being a nuisance by driving an ATV on their own property, all a police officer can do is try to reconcile the neighbors.
Filipiak explained an ordinance might give the police officer some leverage to discourage the behavior. However, the way in which the ordinance would identify a nuisance has not been decided.
Filipiak said, if Council wanted, they could make an ordinance limiting the amount of time an ATV could be used on private property, how loud it could be or how large a residential lot would have to be before an ATV can be driven on it.
Councilman Ray Kirchner said that some lawn mowers and leaf blowers were as loud as these vehicles. He added that an ATV/motor scooter/dirt bike noise ordinance might be difficult to enforce and, sometimes, a poor use of a police officer's time.
However, Council Member Carolyn Bucey agreed with the idea of a nuisance law for these vehicles. She said she has received calls about ATVs and, on some occasions, they were from very small parcels.
"If a dog barking is considered a nuisance, then wouldn't this be?" she asked.
Councilman Robert Shiner said he preferred if any nuisance ordinance for these vehicles did not treat varying lot sizes differently.
"A lot can be one acre or it can be five acres," he said. "If the person is driving their ATV right by the property line, it doesn't make a difference."
Council Member Bruce Landeg said any ordinance would only matter if it could be enforced. After all, a person could make noise with an ATV or dirt bike, they said, but then have it in the garage by the time a police officer arrived to check on a noise complaint.
"We can write (ordinances) all we want but enforcement is key," Landeg said.
Council President Scott Marn said he owns ATVs, though they are housed in Chardon. He suggested that, instead of adding new ordinances, the city focus on enforcing existing ones and punish riders who drive on the streets or trespass on other people's property.
Filipiak said he would take the council members' comments into account while the administration drafted some potential ordinances.