CARPENDALE – Carpendale's town meeting ended abruptly Tuesday as Mayor Casey Lambert announced that the meeting was adjourned following banging his gavel and cautioning those in the audience to watch their language and urging them to change the subject.

By Ronda Wertman

Tribune Correspondent

CARPENDALE – Carpendale’s town meeting ended abruptly Tuesday as Mayor Casey Lambert announced that the meeting was adjourned following banging his gavel and cautioning those in the audience to watch their language and urging them to change the subject.

Many in the crowd were upset about an announcement from Ridgeley Police Chief Jake Ryan Saturday concerning enforcement of ATVs especially on the CSX property.

“Due to a continued trespass and off road vehicle problems on the CSX property, the Ridgeley Police Department in association with the Town of Carpendale will be initiating a special enforcement program, which will provide additional patrol services in this remote terrain with motocross and high speed utility side by side vehicles,” said Ryan on the Ridgeley Police Facebook page.

Word spread quickly as there were 180 comments and over 200 shares of his post.

“Individuals will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and any vehicle recovered (car, truck, ATV, UTV, Motorcycle) will be impounded,” Ryan added.

Tempers flared when residents asked if Carpendale is enforcing the CSX property, to which Lambert said, “No, they don’t want us there.”

This was contradictory to Ryan’s Facebook announcement which read, “By requests from city officials, citizens, CSX Corporation, and Mountaineer Gas Co. we will begin enforcing zero tolerance policies on all ATVs on public roadways, and trespassing on the CSX or Gas Line properties. Spread the word, tell your friends. There will be no warnings given; no prior deals will be upheld no matter who they were with.”

Carpendale contracts police services with Ridgeley and has asked Ridgeley police officers to enforce its ordinances. The council did not ask the police to patrol on the CSX property.

Ryan stated “Where the crime is occurring that is where I patrol. I have been requested to patrol down there by the CSX Police.”

Laws concerning motorcycles and ATVs have always been on the books in Carpendale, but the town was lenient.

“We allowed this and we made a statement that people could ride if they rode responsibly. They abused it,” said Commissioner Virgil O’Neal noting that the town is now forced to enforce the law in town.

Drivers have been seen doing wheelies on the streets, riding on the center line of the main road and other dangerous activities.

“Who is responsible if one of these riders hits a car or a child?” asked Commissioner Clarence Murray.

It was Carpendale’s intent in recent years that riders could be on the street enroute to their off road locations.

By enforcing the ordinance on town streets, the council looking at the safety of the riders and residents.

Commissioner Butch Armentrout noted that the council was looking to promote “peace and quiet” as residents questioned if this was all to raise money.

Residents were upset that “a few bad apples were ruining this for everyone”.

“You can ride all over the place, but know that it’s against the law and you might get caught. When you are caught, you are caught. Everyone is accountable,” Commissioner Mary Jo Hinton said.

Those caught riding will face a $50 fine for each offense.

Lambert noted that there will be exceptions such as in emergency situations or when plowing snow.

Residents asked if it was still permissible to ride in wooded areas and it was noted that they must have permission from the land owner.

Residents outside following the adjournment expressed disappointment at the direction that the meeting had taken noting that there were other issues that they hoped to discuss at the monthly meeting, which was overshadowed by the motorcycle and ATV concerns.