MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed the first of three readings of an ordinance that would authorize the operations of All-Terrain Vehicles and Off-Road Utility Vehicles in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The ordinance established several rules in the use of ATVs and UTVs, including that they may not be used on any Grade Level C road or dirt road; on any Grade Level B road except for the portion designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic; on any street where signs are placed restricting their use; or on any land under the control of the county’s Conservation Board.

The ordinance also says they shall not be used on any hard surface roadway with a 55 mile per hour speed limit, the vehicles must not operate at a speed above 35 miles per hour, and that they do not unduly interfere with or constitute an undue hazard to conventional motor vehicle traffic.

County engineer Brandon Billings says he sent out a statewide e-mail to all the other county engineers asking for examples of their ordinances and any issues they’ve had.  “Almost universally, the problems were caused by people already causing problems. The people that are getting punished are the ones trying to do it safely, not the people out there damaging the roads. There was no real reason not to allow people that are responsible to allow the roads versus the people that are going to get in trouble by the ordinance. They’re already causing trouble and they’re going to continue doing that. At least this gives a way for the people that are being safe and responsible to use the roads in the same way.”

Sheriff Kevin Pals also polled sheriffs from around the state regarding ATV and UTV laws, and he found similar answers to what the state’s county engineers gave.  “They said the same thing that Brandon found out that there was no correlation with lawful riding to damaging the roads, it was all the people riding illegally that are doing it and will still do it when we allow the lawful people to do it. If we could find a way to stop the illegal riders we would try to do that, but we haven’t come up with a good plan yet.”

Supervisors Casey Callanan and Tim Latham say they want to give the public a chance to provide more input prior to the second and third readings of the ordinance.  Latham asked, “We’ll have two more readings. During that two more readings can we take some public input as we go along too?” Callanan replied, “For sure, I think that’s the spirit of the three readings, especially after you implement one, so as more and more information gets out to the public that we allow more public input. Each time we have a vote, we can consider that input and decide accordingly.”

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for next Tuesday.  You can view the ordinance at this link — February 5 2019 Board Packet