Rescinding Suamico ATV/UTV ordinance sought by opponents
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – Opponents of an ordinance the Village Board approved to allow all-terrain/utility-terrain vehicles (ATVs/UTVs) on several village roadways, effective Oct. 19, are looking to stop the measure before then.
Steve Jatczak, who organized residents to speak out against the ordinance, sent a Sept. 26 memo titled “Facts and Data” to board members urging them to “rescind your action of Sept. 20 and create a plan that safely accommodates the wishes of the ATV/UTV community while respecting the rights of their neighbors.”
“Suamico households are still pretty evenly split on the ATV issue,” he said. “ATV/UTV manufacturers and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warn us not to drive them on paved streets. (Former Village President) Laura Nelson properly advised you of the recent actions of the CPSC. That was not ‘just the opinion of one lawyer.’”
Jatczak said he takes issue with how the results of an email poll his group coordinated were interpreted.
He said the results include a difference of less than 3% between the two sides, with more village households opposing the measure than being for it.
Ordinance supporters reported the poll had 59% in favor and 41% opposed.
Jatczak said the results he presented to the board are close to the difference between “yes” and “no” votes in a survey conducted by the village last year in a question on whether to allow ATV/UTV use.
He is urging the board to verify the poll results and examine the detail in the spreadsheets he used, as well as those of Trustee Dan Roddan, who reported a larger number of people responding to the poll.
After 4,945 postcards were mailed out Aug. 30 to homes of registered Suamico voters, Jatczak said their “yes” or “no” votes could be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, an address provided by the village.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker forwarded the results to interested parties.
Jatczak said each postcard included its own four-digit control number to ensure only registered Suamico voters’ opinions would be recognized, with only one vote per household allowed.
“Because our group opposes the ordinance, our process had to be honest, transparent and able to be replicated,” he said. “That’s why we asked the village administrator to receive the emails and forward them to us, which he did beginning Sept. 2.”
Jatczak said Kaker contacted him Sept. 9 about yard signs put up in the village urging people to email the address used for the poll, with the village receiving votes without control numbers included.
In response, Jatczak said he informed Kaker he would tabulate the results by omitting the duplicate responses and those without a control number.
Jatczak said opponents of the ordinance collected poll results through Sept. 12, with the 783 votes counted including 381 in favor and 402 opposed.
Roddan reported 1,036 responses in the poll with 612 in favor and 424 opposed.
Jatczak said ordinance opponents stopped counting Sept. 12 and only tallied votes with control numbers.
Roddan said his tally continued after that date and included non-duplicated votes, whether or not they had control numbers.
Target of opponents
When asked about being accused by Jatczak of having “co-opted” the poll, Roddan said he has been the target of individuals opposed to the ordinance, who should accept the decision and move on.
Roddan said the postcard sent out for the email poll was a “propaganda piece” with photos depicting unsafe uses of ATVs/UTVs prohibited in the ordinance.
Of the 114 emails he received directly while the board considered the ordinance, he said 76 supported it.
Roddan said ordinance opponents had the opportunity at multiple meetings to speak leading up to the Sept. 20 vote.
He said ordinance opponents would still be able to speak during the board’s public comment period, while the village is moving forward with enacting the measure.
Roddan said the village isn’t setting any new trends with the ordinance, because there are now more than 41,000 miles of paved roads in Wisconsin where ATVs and UTVs are allowed.
The board last week also approved a motion to authorize the use of $5,500 in contingency funds for installing ATV/UTV signage prior to the ordinance taking effect.
However, representatives of the local ATV/UTV club pledged to donate that amount to the village.