Suamico to draft ATV/UTV ordinance for possible roadway use
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – The possibility of allowing all-terrain/utility-terrain vehicles on village roadways is progressing following a lengthy discussion of the topic last month by the Suamico village board.
The board directed the village’s Public Health and Safety Committee to review and recommend a final draft of an ATV/UTV ordinance following a presentation about those vehicles.
Village President Laura Nelson, who said ATV/UTV usage wouldn’t be safe on Suamico’s roads, cast the lone dissenting vote.
“I think they’re generally dangerous, overall, to be driving on the roads,” she said.
The board late last year authorized the creation of a subcommittee to research possibly enacting an ordinance pertaining to ATV/UTV usage on village roads.
The subcommittee, chaired by Trustee Dan Roddan, included village residents, a directed enforcement officer and a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources representative.
“The subcommittee was charged by the village board to do one thing – to gather facts and data…,” Roddan said. “There was a lot of hours put into gathering all of this data.”
Suamico residents Jason Nuss and Michael Brandt appeared before the board to present the subcommittee’s findings, which included:
• A map indicating where ATVs/UTVs could be allowed in Suamico under state law.
• Previous accident/incident reports within the village and surrounding areas related to ATVs/UTVs.
• Ordinances of neighboring communities which allow ATV/UTV usage.
• A draft ordinance.
They said Suamico could allow ATV/UTV use on all village and county roads with a speed limit of 35 mph and under, while their use on county roads with a speed limit above 35 mph would require county approval.
Along with areas in Suamico where law enforcement recommended restricting ATV/UTV use, such as Velp Avenue from Lineville Road to County B and Lineville Road from Interstate 41 to County M, they said other restrictions the village should implement include requiring a driver’s license, limiting the hours of operation to between 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., no “cruising” and requiring mufflers to keep exhaust noise below 96 decibels.
The board provided additional input on what to include in the ordinance.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum said he wasn’t for or against allowing ATV/UTV use in the village, but made recommendations on what an ordinance should include for him to support.
“It might sound like I’m against this, but I think that you’re going to have a lot citizens… who are going to bring up these very same issues in a public forum,” he said. “We should be prepared with this, if we are going to have something to get in front of them.”
Van Rossum said he favored further reducing the hours of operation, with him finding 5 a.m. too early and 11 p.m. too late.
“I’d be OK with 10 p.m., (but) I’d like to see 9 p.m. as a cutoff,” he said. “(Allowing ATV/UTV use as early as) 5 a.m., no way. Are you kidding me? As far as that goes, that’s a 9 a.m. (start time) for me.”
Van Rossum said he would want to require helmets be worn by anyone operating an ATV/UTV in Suamico.
“I don’t want to be the person who casts the vote for this ordinance to go forward and find out somebody got killed on an ATV because they weren’t wearing a helmet, because we didn’t ask them to wear a helmet,” he said.
Von Rossum said he would also want to know how much it would cost to put up signs in the village for ATV/UTV routes, so the board could budget for that.
“As many people who are here who utilize ATVs – and quite frankly I would use my ATV going down the road as well – there are probably two or three times this many people in the Village of Suamico, who don’t have ATVs and wouldn’t use it, who would be taxpayers paying for this privilege,” he said.
Roddan said he would take the comments about what to include in the draft ordinance back to the Public Health and Safety Committee for consideration.