City ATV, OHV proposal has county support
November 6, 2009
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray, for one, hopes the Craig City Council passes a proposed ordinance to allow all-terrain and off-highway vehicles on public roads.
Most new laws restrict what people can do, Gray told council members and city officials Wednesday night, but this ordinance would give people more freedom.
Gray and the rest of the commission met with the city for a special workshop to discuss various proposed municipal ordinances that could affect the city and county.
The ordinance will be up for introduction at the council's next meeting Nov. 10. Ordinances go through a three-step process that includes an introduction and first and second readings at separate council meetings before they become official.
The ATV and OHV discussion began after a group of local residents brought a 21-page packet to city officials in September that included a signed petition, examples of similar ordinances in other cities and a draft ordinance for the city to consider.
However, not all officials are on board.
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Mayor Don Jones said many people have called him to talk about it, and most oppose the idea.
There already are too many things to watch for on roads — kids, bicycles, mopeds, elk, deer and antelope — and adding small four-wheelers to the equation is a recipe for disaster, Jones said about people's concerns.
Other city officials didn't see an issue.
"It's just like riding a motorcycle, isn't it?" Councilor Byron Willems said, adding later that most people he talks to are fine with the ordinance after they learn all ATVs and OHVs have to follow the same traffic laws as cars and trucks.
The mayor also said he still doesn't know how many people are interested in driving their ATVs around town.
"Are we just writing an ordinance for a few people?" Jones asked.
Councilor Joe Herod, who largely supported the measure, said it didn't matter how many would take advantage.
"We've got this group of citizens that want something, and they've done a lot of work to be where they're at," he said. "It's just something else we have to look at."
Residents at the meeting were split in their views.
A contingent of those who submitted the proposal were there, as was Craig resident Ken Wergin, who spoke against.
His concern, and he said the concern of his neighbors, was that ATVs and OHVs have a decided culture. People usually ride them for fun, go as fast as they can and sometimes drink while doing so.
Wergin said he wasn't sure everyone would be able to leave that culture behind when they're driving down city streets.
City officials did not directly address that concern but did say throughout the meeting that if the ordinance were passed, every driver would be held to the same standards, and a drunk driving charge is the same whether it's for a car or an ATV.
The proposed ordinance also carries extra restrictions that apply only to four-wheelers.
If passed, it would forbid all ATVs and OHVs from traveling on Yampa Avenue or Victory Way, and require them to go 35 miles an hour or less at all times.
It also requires anyone who wants to drive such a vehicle in town to register it with the city, get insurance and added safety features, such as brake lights, mirrors, a front windshield and a horn.
The ordinance applies only to vehicles with four tires, thereby restricting snowmobiles and anything else with treads.
County support was not limited to one commissioner.
Gray and Commissioner Tom Mathers said they would like to pass a similar provision allowing ATVs and OHVs on county roads in the future.
"I would get a four-wheeler and drive it if this passes," Mathers said.