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August 24, 2019

7/22/2019 1:05:00 PM
Concerns and questions aired at ATV/UTV ordinance meeting

Mineral Point city council's ordinance committee heard from two entities when they met to consider a request to open city streets to ATV/UTV use.
It goes without saying that those who enjoy the sport of ATV/UTV riding want more access to the streets in the community and better open routes to the trails. At present there are some riders who have to load their vehicle on a trailer and drive two blocks to the trail because those streets are restricted.
The riders do not want all streets open as they realize they will not be able to drive down High Street or travel past the areas where the emergency vehicles are stored for use. They realize some streets in the historic district where events are held could be off limits also.
But that leaves many streets the riders could access and they make a strong point why.
"We realize it could be good for our economy here," said alderman Mike Wagner who chairs the ordinance committee. "We are here to listen."
Riders said there is money to be made by the merchants as well as the bars, restaurants, gas stations and motels. All they need is access.
Police Chief Bob Weier and Warden Al Erickson were present to address questions and discuss present regulations.
Weier said ATV/UTV use does not include golf carts, dune buggies, lawnmowers, etc. He said there are various spots in the city already open for gas, etc.
The motels, though, are a different story. ATV/UTVs travel at speeds of 35 mph or less. The speed limit on the Ridge is 45 mph which could make for a dangerous situation.
"Safety issues need to considered," Weier said. "Do you want ATVs up by Point Foods and the other businesses?"
Erickson said the DOT has loosened up some when it comes to signage.
"It could be as simple as putting up something that states All Roads Open in the City to ATV Use Unless Marked Otherwise," he said.
"Our department has stepped back," Erickson said about ATV enforcement. "There have been so many changes over the past years."
He then suggested reaching out to other communities to see what they have for regulating ATV/UTV use.
"With ordinances you can make it more restrictive," he added. "As long as you stay consistent with other ordinances."
There are some problems that come up with who is allowed to operate that have to be considered, the warden said.
"As an example if someone has an drivers license that is revoked because of drinking violations would you want them to be able to still go to the bars with non-licensed ATV use?" he asked. "You have to look at all the options."
Weier cautioned that the more you open things up, the more problems you could have.
One of those with concerns said there should be no ATVs in the historic district.
"That is not what we are known for in Mineral Point," she said, adding she saw 11 ATVs in the district one weekend and 12 another.
Also questioned was the signage as to who pays for them and who puts them up?
A member of an near-by community which has an ATV/UTV club said when they requested and got areas open the club paid for the signs and the installation.
Lifka Bennett asked if state certificates are required for operation. Erickson answered by saying that operating without one is one of the most frequently found violations.
One shop owner said there are some good operators and some "yahoos" who have no concern when it comes to noise.
"They make it a race track," she said. "Our customers do not like the noise. We may lose more money than we gain if we allow operation on High Street."
Kyle Carey asked if it would be possible to cross certain areas instead of drive down them. He added he would like to see access to the motels so they can be used.
Tom Johnston had a concern about the poor repair of several streets in the community.
"Some are not safe, especially for ATV/UTV travel," he said. "And by not being licensed they do not pay toward repairs. What we receive for aid comes from motor vehicle use."
Stephanie McKeon spoke for the ATV/UTV users in the Mineral Point area. She said the clubs have been working with the Town of Mineral Point and have many areas now open. She added the group is now meeting with Iowa County.
A member of the Tri-County ATV club said Lafayette County is very open after passing an ordinance with the requirement you have to have proof of insurance on your ATV at all times.
Al Jacobson who works in maintenance with the school district asked if ATVs used by the school can travel between the two campuses.
"Now that the plan to have everything at one place was voted down we have to travel between the two buildings," he said. "Are their issues with this?"
Erickson said the most restrictions that are lifted concern ag use.
Weier added that the state will not allow this type of exemption because it discriminates.
Because of time constraints the ATV/UTV ordinance part of the meeting was adjourned.
"We will come back to this and will have a public hearing," Wagner told the audience. "We will keep working on it."

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