Town moves closer to allowing ATVs on roads

Commission backs proposed ordinance regulating use of vehicles on highways but wants closer look at club’s suggestions
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Town of Fredonia Plan Commission last week gave its blessing to a proposal that would allow all-terrain utility vehicles to be driven on town roads but wants to refine a proposed ordinance before sending it to the Town Board for final review.

Commission members said they want to take a closer look at a model ordinance provided by members of the Belgium-based Lakeshore ATV/UTV Club who attended last week’s meeting.

They also want to look more closely at a map of routes that would be open for use by riders of all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles (ATVs and UTVs).

Under the ordinance, which has been adopted in the townships of Farmington, Kewaskum, Scott, Wayne and others, the vehicles could travel on any town road, regardless of the speed limit, and on county highways where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

Fredonia’s is the first such ordinance proposed in Ozaukee County, club members said.

Once the club has the town’s permission, members plan to ask the county for permission to travel on county and state highways where the speed limit is higher than 35.

Even if the ordinance is approved, the vehicles could not take to the road until signage is erected. Club member Bob Hubing said it would probably take the club six to eight months to raise the money to pay for the signs, which would be made and installed by the county Highway Department.

While ATVs and UTVs are often used for off-roading, the club is not currently looking to gain access to off-road trails or use snowmobile trails, club members said.

As an aside, Town Clerk Bob Eichner said the county is looking at lowering the speed limit on Highway H north from Waubeka to where it meets Fredonia-Kohler Road, which would make that stretch eligible for ATV vehicles.

That’s because a speed study showed that 87% of drivers already drive slower than the posted 55-mph speed limit on that stretch, he said.

Club members said if the town ordinance is approved, they will reach out to the county about gaining access to county and state roads with speed limits higher than 35 in the Town of Fredonia. They also plan to pitch their idea to the Town of Belgium and the villages of Belgium and Fredonia about being able to use their roads.

Drivers of ATVs and UTVs can be as young as 12. Those ages 12 to 15 must have a parent or guardian in “direct verbal supervision,” meaning close enough to converse, club officials said.

All drivers younger than 18 must complete a safety training course.

Tony Young, the Department of Natural Resources warden for Ozaukee County, said the DNR is generally in favor of “anything that gets people outside; that’s a good thing,” but the DNR takes no position on whether the town should approve the proposed ordinance.

“It’s not an overly concerning thing for us” to allow the vehicles on public roads, Young said, but the DNR does have a few recommendations for the ordinance.

First, the DNR recommends that the vehicles not be allowed to operate between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. to lessen the likelihood of them being used by people with revoked licenses to go to bars since a driver’s license is not required to operate them.

Young suggested the town “not get too cute with the ordinances” and fill it with town-only rules. That’s because the town does not have a marshal or constable to enforce town-only rules over which the DNR and the Sheriff’s Office have no jurisdiction. 

The primary enforcement agency over the vehicles is the DNR because they are recreational vehicles, Young said. 

Club members also urged the commission to keep the ordinance similar to ordinances already approved in other nearby towns, such as Farmington, to reduce confusion among users when traveling from one town to another.

Drivers of the vehicles are required to keep to the “extreme right” of the roadway while staying off the shoulder, if possible, Young said. When there’s more than one vehicle, they are not allowed to drive abreast of each other. 

Young said he patrols the town now, but the addition of ATVs and UTVs on roads “will change my job a lot” because  he has the primary responsibility for policing the vehicles’ use.

Category:

Feedback:

Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

CONNECT


User login