Bill Details - HB683 (2019)

HB 683-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2019 SESSION

19-0808

04/10

 

HOUSE BILL 683-FN

 

AN ACT relative to the rights of property owners abutting certain highways and railtrails.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Moynihan, Coos 2

 

COMMITTEE: Resources, Recreation and Development

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes additional notice and procedural requirements prior to authorizing certain roads or portions of roads for OHRV use.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

19-0808

04/10

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT relative to the rights of property owners abutting certain highways and railtrails.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Inherent Dangers of OHRV Operation.  Amend RSA 215-A:5-c to read as follows:

215-A:5-c  Inherent Dangers of OHRV Operation.  It is recognized that OHRV operation may be hazardous.  Therefore, each person who drives or rides an OHRV accepts, as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in the sport, and shall not maintain an action against an owner, occupant, or lessee of land for any [injuries which result from such inherent risks, dangers, or hazards.  The categories of such risks, hazards, or dangers which the OHRV user assumes as a matter of law include, but are not limited to, the following: variations in terrain, trails, paths, or roads, surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, bare spots, rocks, trees, stumps, and other forms of forest growth or debris, structures on the land, equipment not in use, pole lines, fences, and collisions with other operators or persons.] personal injury or property damage absent intentionally caused injury or damage.  The court may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the defendant if the defendant prevails in the action and the court finds that the claim was brought without merit or had no reasonable basis.  For purposes of this section, an owner, occupant, or lessee of land shall include abutters to any highway or sidewalk upon which the town or city council or board of selectmen has authorized OHRV use pursuant to RSA 215-A:6, IX.

2  Operation of All OHRVs.  Amend RSA 215-A:6, IX to read as follows:

IX.  Pursuant to RSA 215-A:15, after notice by certified mail to all abutting landowners and a public hearing held no less than 30 days following the notice, city or town councils and boards of selectmen may authorize the use of sidewalks and class IV, class V or class VI highways and bridges, or portions thereof, for use by OHRVs, subject to such conditions and limitations as the governing body may deem appropriate.  The operation of OHRVs may also be allowed on sidewalks adjacent to class I, II, III, or III-a highways pursuant to RSA 236:56, II(e).  Operators of OHRVs using said roads, or portions thereof, shall keep to the extreme right and shall yield to all conventional motor vehicle traffic.  The bureau, or its designee, shall so post such highways where authorized.  Following a duly noticed public hearing, except in the case of an emergency closure, such city or town authorities may change the allowable usage of a class IV, class V, or class VI highway by OHRVs by giving notification to the supervisor of the bureau and removing any signs that no longer apply.  No authorization made pursuant to this paragraph shall be effective unless approved by a majority vote of the legislative body and approved by 2/3 of the abutting landowners.

3  Off Highway Recreational Vehicles; Definitions.  Amend RSA 215-A:1, XVII to read as follows:

XVII.  "Trail connector" means that specific portion of an OHRV trail or cross country ski trail on which an OHRV trail maintenance vehicle may operate as authorized within a state highway right-of-way by the department of transportation and which shall not be more than 1/2 mile in length.

4  New Paragraph; Operation of All OHRVs; Speeding on a Class V or VI Highway.  Amend RSA 215-A:6 by inserting after paragraph XI the following new paragraph:

XII.  Any person charged with operating an OHRV on a class V or VI highway in excess of the speed limits specified in this section shall be cited for the equivalent violation and penalties under RSA 265:60 and not cited for unlawful speed under this section.

5  Limitations of OHRV Operation on Class I, II, III, and III-a Highways.  Amend RSA 215-A:10, IV(a) to read as follows:

(a)  Notwithstanding any provisions of the law to the contrary, a person may operate an OHRV on a class I, class II, class III, or class III-a highway that has been designated open for use, in Coos county or in Grafton county, by the bureau of trails, with the approval of the department of transportation and the department of safety and a public meeting in each community which would be directly affected by such designation.  The bureau shall provide written notice of the meeting to all abutters in each community affected at least 10 days prior to the meeting.  The bureau, or its designee, shall sign any approved sections of highway for OHRV use.

6  Limitations of OHRV Operation on Class I, II, III, and III-a Highways.  Amend RSA 215-A:10, IV(c) to read as follows:

(c)  The following sections of state highway shall be designated for OHRV use: [Back Lake Road in Pittsburg, from the town dump to Route 3;] Route 3 in Pittsburg from the intersection of Back Lake Road to Route 145; Route 145 in Pittsburg and Clarksville from the intersection of Route 3 to Cedar Stream Road; Diamond Pond Road in Stewartstown from the town-owned section south to Charles Heath Road; Jericho Lake Road in Berlin from Route 110 to Jericho Mountain State Park; the reduced speed section of Route 3 in North Stratford village as needed to reach services.

7  Off Highway Recreational Vehicles; Manufacturing Specification Requirements.  Amend RSA 215-A:12, III(a)-(b) to read as follows:

(a)  If manufactured between January 1, 1973, and December 31, 1974, inclusive, of [88] 82 decibels on the A scale.

(b) If manufactured between January 1, 1975, and December 31, 1982, inclusive, [86] 82 decibels on the A scale.

8  Off Highway Recreational Vehicles; Manufacturing Specification Requirements.  Amend RSA 215-A:12, IV to read as follows:

IV.  No person shall operate in this state a trail bike or all terrain vehicle which produces a sound level in excess of [96] 82 decibels on the A scale, when measured in accordance with the provisions of the Society of Automotive Engineers Recommended Practice ANSI/SAE, J-1287, Mar 82, "Measurement of Exhaust Sound Levels of Stationary Motorcycles".

9  When Municipalities Not Liable.  Amend RSA 231:93 to read as follows:

231:93  When Municipalities Not Liable.  Municipalities shall not be deemed to have any duty of care whatsoever with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of class I, III, III-a or VI highways, or state maintained portions of class II highways.  Upon any highway or other way with respect to which a municipality is found to have a duty of care of any kind, its liability shall be limited as set forth in this subdivision.  In the event that the governing body of a city or town authorizes the use of a class VI highway or sidewalk or any portion thereof by OHRVs pursuant to RSA 215-A:6, IX, the immunities and protections of this section shall not apply with respect to such class VI highway or sidewalk.

10  Prohibition of Certain Vehicles Within Highway Rights-of-Way.  Amend RSA 236:56, II(d)(1) to read as follows:

(1)  All OHRVs and snowmobiles may be operated within specified trail connectors and pursuant to the provisions of RSA 215-A:9 or RSA 215-C:9.  The commissioner of the department of transportation may limit the operation of specified types of OHRVs and snowmobiles when the commissioner feels this is necessary in matters of safety and maintenance of trail corridors or at the suggestion of the chief supervisor of the bureau of trails.  [Trail connectors, as defined in RSA 215-A:1, in Coos county and in Grafton county shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 215-A:42 and RSA 215-A:43.]

11  New Subparagraph; Speed Limitations; Basic Rule and Maximum Limits; OHRV Operation on Class V and VI Highways.  Amend RSA 265:60, II by inserting after subparagraph (h) the following new subparagraph:

(i)  20 miles per hour, unless posted otherwise, for any OHRV operating on a class V or VI highway.

12  Repeal.  RSA 215-A:43, V, relative to the exemption for a change in use designation for rail trails to include ATVs and trail bike use, is repealed.

13  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

 

LBAO

19-0808

1/16/19

 

HB 683-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to the rights of property owners abutting certain highways and railtrails.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - OHRV and Snowmobile Fund, Fish and Game Fund,  Multiple (any state fund used to purchase OHRV modifications)

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill makes several changes to the law pertaining to Off-highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRV) by: providing additional liability protection to abutters of any highway or sidewalk where local authorities have authorized OHRV use; requiring certified mail be delivered to abutters 30 days prior to local legislative bodies and two-thirds of abutters authorize the use of OHRV’s on town highways; limiting the definition of trail connecters to not more than half a mile in length; moving OHRV speeding violations to be processed as motor vehicle violations; restricting specific highways from OHRV use; and lowering the allowable decibel limits of OHRVs to be used in the state.

 

The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources reports the decibel restrictions would require all OHRVs to receive a modification to bring the noise level to the allowable decibel level.  This bill will likely have a negative impact on the over $1.1 million in OHRV registration revenue deposited into the OHRV and Snowmobile Fund.  The Department estimates a substantial amount of OHRV operators would elect to not register in the state.  OHRV operators could theoretical procure an aftermarket device to come into compliance with this bill, but the Department said each modification would have to be endorsed by the manufacturer in order to be compliant.  It cannot be determined how many OHRV operators would come into compliance and continue to register their OHRV.  The Department estimated the after-market device to cost approximately $200 for one of their OHRVs.  In addition to the Department, the State owns approximately 100 OHRVs, which would require modifications to reduce the decibel level, for an estimated total cost of $20,000 to modify.  Also, county and local governments with OHRVs would need to purchase decibel modification devices to adhere to this bill, thereby increasing their expenditures by an indeterminable amount.

 

The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources also anticipates some increase to their workload to complete some administrative processes required by this bill, but anticipate these expenses to be minor or to already be part of their existing processes.

 

The Fish and Game Department reports that several of the restrictions enacted in this bill would be the responsibility of any law enforcement agency to enforce, including the Fish and Game Department.  However, the work required to ensure compliance would likely be included in the existing processes of any agency.  

 

It is not possible to predict the number of violations that would be charged as result of this bill.  However, the additional restraints to OHRV operators, such as, more restrictive decibel and speed limits, could result in increased fine revenue by an indeterminable amount.

 

The Department of Transportation states it would not incur any fiscal impact under this bill.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Fish and Game Department, and Department of Transportation

 

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 3, 2019 Introduced 01/03/2019 and referred to Resources, Recreation and Development HJ 3 P. 25
Feb. 26, 2019 Public Hearing: 02/26/2019 10:00 am LOB 305-307
March 8, 2019 Full Committee Work Session: 03/08/2019 10:00 am LOB 305
March 13, 2019 Executive Session: 03/13/2019 10:00 am LOB 305
Retained in Committee

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 26, 2019 House Hearing
March 13, 2019 House Exec Session

Bill Text Revisions

HB683 Revision: 4961 Date: Jan. 16, 2019, 3:44 p.m.