Trespassing ATVs and Snowmobiles Lead to Shots Fired

Farmers and North Branford residents spoke out at the Jan. 8 Town Council meeting with concerns over ATVs and snowmobiles being driven on their land.


After the North Branford Town Council breezed through its Jan. 8 agenda in about 40 minutes, the public comments then more than doubled the length of the meeting that was filled to capacity. Residents came out in force in support of two issues – school security (story to come) and concerns about ATV’s and snowmobiles on public and private property.

Three residents, including one representing the Agriculture Commission, spoke out about the “ongoing problem” of dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being used on farmland, private property and streets. The Agriculture Commission’s letter concluded by asking for the “Town Council’s involvement to help the farmers.”


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The topic got heated at several points in the discussion, particularly after discussion of shots being fired by a homeowner after a snowmobile rode on his property. North Branford Police Chief Matthew Canelli was present at the meeting and Council members asked him for details.

“It’s an open case so I can’t go into details,” said Canelli. “A homeowner got frustrated, fired a couple rounds from his shotgun. He was charged with numerous felony accounts.”

After the Council listened to the concerns, several members asked for suggestions for solutions. Residents suggested involving the DEEP and having a stronger police presence. Councilor Ron Siena asked the residents if they had filed complaints with the police department, noting “if it’s your neighbor, you have to step up – if you se something, say something.” The residents who spoke said they had not filed complaints.

Canelli reiterated the importance of the public’s help: “They have helmets, we can’t ID them. Once they go off roads, we can’t pursue them. If we do and they have an accident, we’ll be held liable. When we get the call, we go to the house and if they know who the culprit is and they give us a statement, we’ll do our due diligence and make an arrest.”

Bonnie Therrien, interim town manager, and Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker both offered to help find a solution, as well.

“I’ll be glad to sit with members of Agriculture Commission, get the police involved, talk to the DEEP, but it will never be 100 percent foolproof,” said Therrien.

Schoonmaker said that while he’s not a resident of the town, the ATV use affects school grounds, too. He also acknowledged the difficulty the police department faces as far as catching the riders.

“I don’t think students are being malicious – I think they’re just trying to have fun,” he said. “If we could get the [Agriculture] Commission together with the students and the students could hear the frustration from the farmers – maybe it’s worth trying.”

jackT January 11, 2013 at 01:17 PM
it comes down to parenting. If you buy your kids these vehicles, know where they are riding them and how they are using them. You will ultimately be responsible when they get into trouble with them or hurt someone with them.
Jenn Bryson January 11, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I think the parents who let their brats ride these things are hoping it will kill their kids off so they don't have to hire someone or do it themselves
mary rosenburg January 11, 2013 at 01:39 PM
jenn that is the most horrific thing another parent can say. maybe u want your kids dead, dont ever say that about anyone elses child. you are pathetic and maybe your kids are the brats...
jane January 11, 2013 at 02:00 PM
thats right that is horrible, maybe you should say that to someone who has lost a child and see there reaction... just so incredibly insensitive
tom January 11, 2013 at 02:11 PM
not sure about the farmers, i no 2 farmers who let the kids ride when they are not planting and the kids are pretty responsible in doing so, i no there are kids that are not and are very distuctive, they ruin it for everyone.. hope this gets resolved soon
peter January 11, 2013 at 02:15 PM
would u rather have these kids out robbing houses or doing drugs..there are a lot of worse things they can be doing. there doing something thats not distructive. we need to resolve this
James Dwyer January 11, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Parenting is definitely needed here to help solve this home town problem. Educating the local teenagers could improve the safety and the responsibility by them through the school system. Trespassing on farmers' property or someone's property is against the law. There should be registration of all ATVS and snowmobiles in town. There are noise laws in this town that should be followed by all. An article could be published in the Totoket Times or the Sound advising parents and other residents (violators) suggesting the consequences of trespassing on other people's property. More cooperation and discussion of this topic is needed by all.
Justice for all January 11, 2013 at 04:29 PM
This right now is not about the snomobiles, atv's or dirtbikes. It's about a resident firing multible shots with parents and children present. it's obscene that this person is not in jail.
concerned neighbor January 11, 2013 at 05:27 PM
thank you, especially after what happened in newtown this only happened a week later, shame on him for doing that and his wife for condoning it..... he should have all his weapons taken away so this doesnt happen in the future..luckily noone go hurt
Justice for all January 11, 2013 at 06:21 PM
This neighbor is a problem. Has always caused trouble and thinks he is the only one allowed to ride on this farm. There has never been a problem until he came along. He is the biggest problem in our area and now the truth has come out..A danger to himself and everyone else.
mikey January 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
thank you ... i have heard the same about him also..very well said
north branford local January 11, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Listen I understand why people get upset but not all kids ride and ruin the fields. I love riding my veheicle and j respect the farmers that's why I try to stay on the outside the hay and ride the corners. Also we do.y even ride in the big potato fest field a lot we actually just cut through. But I honestly dont know what I would do if I didn't have my quad dirtbike and snowmobile and I am sure my mom didn't help me buy them to kill me Jen. And the thing about the guy with the shot gun I actually know him and was riding my snowmobile that night and it was a bit frightening. But its funny how he got upset but its ok for his kid to ride. I'm just trying to say we respect the farmers and land owners and just trying to have some fun and the only reason people run is because there scared nit to be disrespectful.
neighbor bill January 11, 2013 at 08:27 PM
that farm you are talking about that he thinks he owns, is town property
john January 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM
If People are complaining about us riding trails farms or streets then please make us a spot to ride but for now were gunna keep doing what we are doing
steve g January 12, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Lets face it there nothing for kids to do in this town. Maybe the town could take some of there land and give them a place to ride legally. Make them register charge a small fee for up keep kind of like the vast does in vt for snowmobiles. My daughter has wanted a atv for ever but no where to ride. I would pay a fee to do this. Just my .02
Rick January 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Wonderful. Someone does you wrong, pull out your gun. Great way to solve problems...
John January 14, 2013 at 01:36 PM
I don't have a problem with kids having fun with these vehicles, however my daughter, wife, and I were almost run down by a group of kids on them in the back of Northford park. They came around a turn at high speeds and almost took us out. Then they sped off and police could do nothing. So these vehicles are just as dangerous as a gun if not used properly and the police are useless to deter them. I agree some town land could be set aside for this use but they will continue to be a menace on walking trails.
NB Resident January 16, 2013 at 02:56 PM
People need to understand that we have been riding here forever. People way before our generation have been riding there so people who live around there need to accept it. Riding is fun and it is what we love. For us it is like a sport and to take that privelage away would be rediculous. Also if the police just let us be there would be no problems. The problems come when they chase us. I understand it isnt our property but when we get permission from the farmers it should be ok.
Jenn McCulloch January 18, 2013 at 02:24 PM
A bill proposing increasing fines for trespassing ATVs was introduced earlier this week: http://northbranford.patch.com/articles/sen-fasano-proposes-doubling-fines-for-trespassing-atvs#comments_list
Justice for all April 29, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Whatever happened with this case?


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