ATV Ordinance discussed
At the Washington City Council special session Tuesday evening the ATV (all terrain vehicle) ordinance drew a lot of conservation between members of the public and city council members.
During public comment some residents in Washington and in the county spoke in favor of letting people drive their ATVs from point A to B in town by the shortest route possible.
“Hello, everybody, my name is Kent Davis and I’m trying to see if I can’t get the ATV established in the city of Washington,” Davis said. “I gave you a copy of Washington County secondary road ordinance, Brighton’s. Do you have any questions?”
Councilor Jaron Rosien asked Davis what his use of an ATV was and why he liked the proposed ordinance.
“I am a four-wheeler,” Davis said. “I like to go out four-wheeling. I would like to get from my garage to the nearest gravel road since Washington County has opened it up to ATVs.”
Davis lives only two blocks from a county road and would like to be able to drive there on his ATV without putting it on a trailer to get there. He said he is required to have insurance on his ATV, and a valid driver’s license, and drive the required speed of 35 mph in the ordinance.
Jim Nebel also spoke about the proposed ATV ordinance.
“One thing I would like to point out, or how you guys discussed on the ordinance part, we are required to have a state DNR registration,” Nebel said. “We are required to have a county permit, and now with things with the area clubs and stuff going and area towns doing this, it’s getting to the point now where these permits—no offense—are getting to the point of a burden because you’re paying a permit to go to this town, you’re paying a permit to go on the county roads, you’re paying a permit to go to Washington if this goes through.”
Nebel said eventually to go from Washington to Brighton an ATV owner would need three permits. An ATV is the only vehicle required to have three permits in the state.
Rosien asked what the costs of the other permits were. Nebel said Brighton was $25, West Chester was $25, and the state included a registration fee of $25.
Councilor Robert Shellmyer said he was in favor of ATV owners in Washington having to pay a fee at city hall. He said the city wouldn’t make any money off of the permits but would cover the expense requiring ATVs to register at city hall.
Nebel didn’t agree with Shellmyer. He said the ATVs were already pre-registered, and if the ATV user provided the registration they have with the state or county the city wouldn’t have any expense because it was already done by the DNR.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson agreed with Nebel. He said rather than having a separate city permit, the ATV user could provide city hall with a copy of his or her county permit for them to keep on file and follow the rules in town.
Councilor Bob Shepherd asked if Nebel was talking about taking the shortest way out of town, or driving through town, because those were two different issues. Nebel said he was talking about the shortest way out of town but would like for others to have the freedom to use their ATVs in town.
Councilor Kathy Salazar asked how would the city enforce the ordinance. Hinson said it would be impossible to enforce just like the snowmobile ordinance. Shepherd said it would be enforced when someone abused the ordinance.
“Well, I could see if there’s a big issue you guys will drop the ordinance like that,” Davis said, “if there’s a problem; and I could see that, but I don’t think there’s going to be a problem cause have you guys seen anything like that going on right now?”
Rosein said he saw someone driving an ATV with a child on his or her lap on private property around a tree. Mayor Sandra Johnson said that was on private property and not on a roadway.
Both Davis and Nebel said two people couldn’t ride on an ATV unless it was manufactured that way because it was against state law to do so.
Washington County Public Health Administrator Danielle Pettit-Majewski said the way the Washington County Board of Supervisors decided to write the ordinance was to make sure ATV users would be going the shortest possible distance on paved roads. She said she hoped the city council would take that into consideration when writing the ordinance.
Tim Stout, a rural resident who lives near the City of Washington, asked the city council to keep in mind the ordinance would keep people from abusing ATVs in town, especially the younger drivers because of the restrictions the state already has on young drivers.
After the public comment time was closed the council discussed what changes they would like to see in the language of the ATV ordinance.
Shepherd said he would like the part removed where the city requires ATV users to have a permit to use it in town. Hinson said that would be fine but requiring operators to have a copy of their county permit at city hall should be in the ordinance.
Salazar said she still had several concerns about the ordinance. She asked for a diagram of where ATVs could be used in town and
would like to see a concrete time for the operation of ATVs in the city. She also asked for information regarding what the city was liable for if someone were hurt in town driving an ATV, from city attorney Kevin Olson, and requested a diagram of roads ATVs would be allowed on in town.
Johnson said she would like to know what other cities in the county have adopted an ATV ordinance and what their fees were.
Hinson said he would take these revision suggestions and have them done by the first reading, which is tentatively scheduled for the next city council meeting on July 1.