Attorney to review proposed Suamico ATV/UTV ordinance
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – After discussing the matter for about an hour July 19, the village board agreed to have its legal counsel review and provide feedback on a proposed ordinance that would allow all-terrain/utility-terrain vehicles on some village roadways.
The proposed ATV/UTV ordinance was recommended earlier this month by Suamico’s Public Health and Safety Committee, which forwarded it to the board.
The board previously discussed the matter last month when it directed the committee to review and recommend a final draft of the ordinance.
Trustee Dan Roddan, who also chairs the committee, outlined the proposed ordinance, which also lists streets where ATV/UTV use would not be allowed, such as Lineville Road, Rockwell Road, Pirates Cove and Carolina Cherry Drive in their entirety, along with portions of five other streets – School Lane (County B), Flintville Road (County M), Reforestation Road, Lakeview Drive (County J) and Cardinal Lane.
Roddan said the village would retain the right to close any village street to ATV/UTV operation for nuisance issues, special events or due to street construction.
He said ATV/UTV traffic would be prohibited on county roads where the speed limit is greater than 35 mph, unless specifically designated as an ATV/UTV route by signage.
Roddan said a state-issued driver’s license would be required to operate an ATV or UTV on any village street, and probationary licenses would not be allowed in Suamico.
“One of the things we added at the committee was probationary licenses are prohibited,” he said. “That was more of a law enforcement request.”
Roddan said ATVs/UTVs operating on designated streets in the village would be regulated by state laws, such as the requirement to be on the extreme right-hand portion of the paved or traveled part of the road in single file, as well as having headlights and taillights illuminated.
He said anyone under the age of 18 operating or riding as a passenger on an ATV would be required to wear a helmet, but those above that age wouldn’t be.
“We shouldn’t be telling adults to wear helmets or not,” Trustee Michelle Eckert said. “That’s their own call.”
Roddan said the proposed ordinance calls for limiting ATVs/UTVs on public streets from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but an exception would be granted from Dec. 1 to March 15 from 5 a.m. to midnight “for the sole purpose of accessing the waters of Green Bay for recreational activities.”
“Law enforcement indicated that with that language in there, they can enforce that,” he said. “If someone’s going back and forth after 10 p.m. to a neighbor’s house, you’re not heading out to the bay. You’re not making efforts to go to the bay.”
Laura Nelson, who resigned as village president at the end of the meeting, questioned how the exception on the hours of operation for accessing the bay in winter could be enforced.
“What do you consider recreational activities on the waters of Green Bay, not the ice of the Bay of Green Bay?” she said. “You could say, ‘I’ve got someone waiting with a kayak. I’m going to go kayaking on the frozen, ice-cold waters of the Bay of Green Bay. I could take a boat out on the ice-cold waters of the Bay of Green Bay, and that’s where I’m headed.’”
Trustee Sky Van Rossum said he would expect not allowing ATVs/UTVs to access the bay in winter before 8 a.m. would cause more problems than allowing ice anglers to go on the bay before sunrise.
“They’re going to be accessing that bay before sunrise, even though the time (ATVs/UTVs could begin to operate without the exception) is 8 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “They’re going to say, ‘I was just going ice fishing.’”
Van Rossum said he isn’t for or against the proposed ordinance, which he would like to see the village’s legal counsel review and Suamico residents to comment on.
“If nobody chooses to come and speak against this, right, then I’m led to believe that this is OK,” he said. “I’m willing to hear anybody’s arguments, just like we’re willing to hear anybody’s arguments on why this is a good idea.”
Michael Brandt, a Suamico resident who favors ATV/UTV use on village streets, said allowing those vehicles to access the bay in winter until midnight would involve more than ice fishing.
“This is a compromise because there is this perception that ATVs are going to sound like garbage trucks backing up into your bedroom and dumping garbage on you,” he said. “As it turns out, the evidence says the average sound decibel of these things going down the road, at 50 feet, which is where you are in your house, is 75 decibels, very, very similar to just a pickup truck.”
The proposed ordinance states all ATV/UTV muffler systems may not emit any noise louder than 96 decibels.