ATV appeal reaches county commissioner |

ATV appeal reaches county commissioner

Tom Mathers voices strong support for vehicles’ sanctioned travel on county roads

Collin Smith

— Although the request to allow all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on county roads is new, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he's ready to give his approval the first chance he gets.

"I already have my mind made up," he said. "I made it up a long time ago."

Local residents DeLaine Brown and Bruce White made a formal appeal to the commission at its regular meeting Tuesday. They also lead the charge on ATV/OHV allowances on city streets, which the Craig City Council approved earlier this month.

The commission did not vote on the issue, though Commissioner Audrey Danner said she also was open to the idea.

Commissioner Tom Gray was absent.

Brown and White asked the commission approve a resolution similar to the city's ordinance.

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The city's ATV policies mandate vehicles have certain safety equipment — such as a headlight, tail lamps and rearview mirror — and that drivers carry a proof of insurance for driving on public roads, which is different than off-road coverage.

White said he and others met with Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz about two weeks ago to discuss the issue, which Jantz said is a "no-brainer."

"It's just kind of absurd to me that states (in the West) have allowed the usage of ATVs, but in Colorado, where we have a high usage, we have not," Jantz said. "They are a practical vehicle in our area."

The state of Colorado has not authorized ATVs or OHVs for public roads, but it does allow cities and counties to enact their own regulations if they choose.

Jantz cautioned, though, that not every county road is suitable for ATV traffic.

Specifically, County Road 183, which forms part of the truck by-pass northwest of town, has too many fast-moving trucks to be safe, Jantz said.

"It's absurd that people would drive an ATV on that road, and I think most anyone would agree with that," he said.

Other county roads the sheriff would like to consider for limited ATV or OHV travel include county roads 107, 57 and 29.

Jantz also said it might be easier for the county to designate some roads as ATV/OHV routes instead of approving a resolution that creates a new local regulatory structure for those vehicles.

He said he believes any rider traveling on a designated ATV or OHV route still must follow Colorado laws, such as wearing a helmet if he or she is younger than 18.

That way, there still would be limits on what people could do on their ATVs, but the county wouldn't have to "reinvent the wheel," Jantz said.

Mathers said Jantz's idea would have the added benefit of keeping county officials from having to create separate regulations for seasonal hunters who already use ATVs and OHVs to travel around the county.

The only drawback, White said, was that state laws don't require public road insurance, which he thinks should be mandatory in case of accidents.

Little interest seen in ATV/OHV registration

Since the Craig Police Department began registering local residents' ATVs and OHVs last week, a total of six people have registered seven vehicles, a police official said.

White, who helped start the drive to legalize four-wheelers on public roadways, said he had not registered his vehicle because of the weather.

He said he expects a lot more interest when the area gets warmer.

"A lot of people's ATVs are just snowed under right now," White said. "In May, April, you're going to see people trickling in."

He and Brown said at least one local ATV dealer has seen a rush on the extra safety equipment required by the city's ordinance, such as horns and mirrors.

There's been such a high demand for after-market safety parts, Brown added, that there is a waiting list for people to receive parts on back-order.

Other action

The Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, raising most usage fees at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion by $25. The only exception is the fee for washing dishes, which remains $25.

The county also will now charge a flat $75 clean-up fee to renters.

• Discussed a plan to change possessory interest tax collections with Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs.

Baumgardner said he hopes to add some form of exemption to the tax for those who pay small amounts.

Possessory interest tax is collected on leases for tax-exempt property, such as public used by ranchers for grazing or a national park leased by a ski resort.

In many cases regarding small ranchers, Baumgardner said it costs more money for local counties to collect the tax than it actually is worth.

He added the state Constitution prohibits the Legislature from changing possessory interest tax laws, so he wants to approach the idea as a constitutional amendment, which requires approval by two-thirds of both the state House and Senate.

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