ATV ordinance moves on to third reading
The proposed Washington County ordinance concerning regulations for use of all-terrain or off-road utility vehicles on county roadways made it out of the second reading and on to a third reading during today’s board of supervisors meeting. However it was not without controversy.
At issue was Section 3 — Operation on Roadways Permitted. The ordinance states, “In the event a person residing on a county pavement wishes to operate an ATV and/or UTV on a permissible country gravel road, said person may so operate on the shoulder of the county pavement only so far as to reach the nearest permissible county gravel road.”
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said he didn’t realize the ordinance was going to be limited on paved roads to just people who live on a paved county road.
“I thought if you were out in the country going back and forth across the Riverside Road or up and down different places where you had to go, it would be all right,” Seward said.
County engineer Jacob Thorius, who helped write the ordinance, said that was talked about when the ordinance was being developed. He said that not all county paved roads have a gravel shoulder big enough for ATVs to drive on.
“My entire argument or feelings on this is that people have to take responsibility for what they’re doing and if what they want to do isn’t safe, they should know that and they should not do it,” Seward said. “Accidents will happen. You can be as safe as you want to be and you can have all the laws you want to have — accidents are still going to happen.”
Supervisor Richard Young said that the wording from Section 3 came from the group who proposed the ordinance.
The discussion continued for a few minutes, when Supervisor Steve Davis said, “It (the ordinance) started out as a simple deal from these guys to go trapping and hunting, to get out to where they can get. I would be fine leaving it the way it is, myself.”
Supervisor Stan Stoops also agreed to leave the section as it is.
Davis also said that the supervisors have talked to other county supervisors and other sheriffs.
“They’ve seen no issues so far, no increase in problems,” he said.
Supervisor Bob Yoder voted against the motion to accept the second reading of the ordinance and pass it on to a third reading. The motion passed with four supervisors voting aye.
Yoder did not say why he voted no. Earlier in the meeting he suggested that dropping the speed limit from 35 to 25 mph would have “safety benefits.” He also voted no on the first reading during the Jan. 14 meeting.
The third reading will be on the agenda for the board’s Jan. 28 meeting.
In other business, the board:
• received a presentation and funding request from Sarah Sadrakula of Main Street Washington. The funding request is for $6,250, which is unchanged from last year’s request;
• approved a contract with Calhoun-Burns and Associates of West Des Moines to do bridge inspections and rating services. Thorius said the company has been inspecting and rating the county’s bridges for more than 20 years. This year’s contract is for $4,190 for 24 structures. In 2015, the company will inspect 155 structures for $21,690. The board approved the contract; and
• acknowledged receipt of the county auditor’s quarterly report.
The English River Watershed presentation and funding request did not take place due to the weather.