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A second lawsuit against ATVs on public roads was successful in Lewis County Monday, after a Supreme Court judge ruled the village of Constableville did not prove access to a trail system "would otherwise be impossible."

Bernadette DeSantis filed a judgment against the village and Village Board last year after lawmakers designated certain highways open to ATVs in order to access a countywide trail system. The village highlighted sections of state vehicle and traffic law, which says some roads may be open to the vehicles if there was no other access point.

Judge Peter Schwerzmann sided with DeSantis, finding the Village Board did not do its due diligence in researching whether it was "otherwise impossible" for ATVs to gain access to the trails.

"If this type of conclusory finding were allowed to stand, any section of public highway subject to being opened under VTL 2405 could in fact be so opened by simply including a determination that unless the public highway(s) were so opened ATVs could not gain access to trails," Schwerzmann wrote in his decision. "While the Court understands the economic development and ease of use arguments to be made in favor of such a plan, it is nevertheless constrained to apply the law as written."

Schwerzmann added that he did not believe the Village Board intended to violate the law, and said the Lewis County ATV trail system is important for the economic development of the county. 

The Adirondack Council filed a similar suit in 2007 and won. The council congratulated DeSantis in an email Thursday.

— Gwendolyn Craig

Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (518) 742-3238 or Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1



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