McKeesport council last week banned the use of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, despite some council members' and the mayor's desire to reach a compromise between residents who say they're trying to provide a safe place for kids and teens to play and those concerned about noise and safety.
A standing-room-only crowd packed council chambers for a hearing before the meeting to argue for or against the ban. The dispute began late last year after a resident of the Haler Heights neighborhood purchased a tract of land to create trails for his children and their friends to ride on. Some Haler Heights residents complained about noise and dust from the motorized bikes, and others expressed safety concerns.
Mayor Mike Cherepko said the issue has been discussed extensively and noted council has "a difficult decision to make" on the bill. He and some council members called for council to hold off on a vote and reach a compromise bill that would add restrictions on ATV and dirt bike use but not completely ban it.
Councilman Daniel Carr called for a compromise and mused that council could next be asked to measure the decibel levels of children's laughter to ensure the sound doesn't disturb residents.
"This cannot represent those who want to work together," he said of the ban.
President Darryl Segina noted that council will be able to modify the ban. "Not all bills are perfect, and I will concede, this one isn't perfect either."
Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery said it was time to make a decision on the ATV issue. "This issue has gotten out of hand, and we need to address it immediately." She said she would favor a compromise bill that would create "ATV zones" where the bikes could be ridden but ban their use in residential areas.
Council ultimately voted 4-3 to ban the use of the vehicles in city limits. Mr. Segina, Ms. Walker-Montgomery, A.J. Tedesco and Keith Soles voted in favor; Mr. Carr, Dale McCall and Richard Dellapenna dissented.
Council also removed from the agenda an anti-nepotism bill that would prevent elected and appointed officials from holding positions on city boards, authorities and commissions. Officials have been arguing about the bill for nearly a year and have tabled it before.
Annie Siebert: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.