A Dennis Township resident has filed a tort claim notice with the municipal government alleging local officials have failed to enforce regulations regarding off-road vehicle riding near his home.
Gary Gibson, a retired State Police trooper who has lived on Gravel Hole Road since 1981, has complained to elected leaders for years that his neighbors are illegally riding noisy ATVs and dirt bikes near his property. He also alleges he has been personally threatened for speaking up about the activity.
Gibson's notice lists several current and former government officials who he believes have implicitly permitted this activity by indifference to zoning ordinances he specifically believes are being violated by the operation of a motocross track on a business property on his road.
He says he has suffered "extreme emotional and physical distress" due to the ongoing issue. He also believes that his property value has been diminished.
Township officials’ failure to act has “significantly impacted the basic right to peaceful enjoyment of one's domicile, and has empowered and emboldened those who choose to break or disregard the law,” the notice states.
Gibson regularly emails complaints about these issues to township officials, sometimes several a day, and he says little meaningful action has been taken in response to his complaints.
The governing body created an ATV subcommittee, which included Gibson, his neighbor Walter Noll and off-road vehicle owners, to discuss how to resolve the problems of nuisance noise and dust caused by the machines.
This past weekend, the state opened an off-road park in nearby Woodbine to provide a legal and relatively secluded place for riders, but Gibson is doubtful that will have any impact on his situation.
Dennis Township Clerk Jacqueline Justice said she received the notice Tuesday. Township Solicitor Michael Donohue said it would be premature to comment on the substance of the notice.
"We have taken steps to try and address some of his concerns," Donohue said, referring to an ordinance the Township Committee approved last year tightening regulations on off-road vehicles.
A tort claim notice serves to notify a public entity that someone feels they have been wronged and have a possible case against it. It is not a formal lawsuit, which may not be filed for several months, if ever.
Gibson said he has not yet retained an attorney in the matter.
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