Ordinance debate continues in Suamico
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – With an ordinance set to take effect Oct. 19 to allow all-terrain/utility-terrain vehicles (ATVs/UTVs) on a number of roadways, the issue continued to generate discussion before the Suamico Village Board.
During the public comment period at the Oct. 4 Suamico Village Board meeting, Steve Jatczak, who organized a group of residents against the ordinance, spoke about a letter he sent board members six days after they voted 4-2 to approve the measure.
Jatczak said there was confusion and mistrust Sept. 20 over the stated differences in a poll emailed to a village address, from which he and Trustee Dan Roddan reported the amount of support or opposition, with each side claiming to receive more votes than the other.
He said the 5-minute time limit imposed per speaker because of the number of people in attendance didn’t provide time to resolve any discrepancies in statements made leading up to the board’s vote.
Jatczak said the response to his letter from Trustee Jason Ward, who was one of the board members who joined Roddan in approving the ordinance, stated the only way to get a true count of public support or opposition would be to hold a referendum, which the board majority didn’t favor.
Ward told Jatczak the group which opposed the ordinance should now focus on getting the streets of the Hidden Lake neighborhood and/or other areas in the village removed from where ATV/UTV use will be allowed.
Jatczak said he delivered a request to the village’s Health and Safety Committee from his neighbors on Hidden Lake Lane to have a portion of the street removed from the allowable ATV/UTV routes.
“We hope (the committee) will consider and approve it on Oct. 19,” he said.
Even if that request is implemented, Jatczak said “it won’t solve the problem that is at the root of all this, because an avoidable accident will happen somewhere else in Suamico.”
“I hope I’m wrong, but what if I’m right?” he said. “Folks, I implore you, listen to the manufacturer, read the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (warning), keep ATVs and UTVs off-road.”
Jatczak’s comments made reference to ATV/UTV manufacturers and the CPSC stating the vehicles should not be operated on paved roads.
Supporters of the ordinance stated more than 41,000 miles of paved roads in Wisconsin now allow ATV/UTV use.
Roddan, who chairs the Health and Safety Committee and was part of the village’s subcommittee to study ATV/UTV usage, took exception to Jatczak’s remarks and comments directed at him from other ordinance opponents.
“I’m the one being attacked by this campaign group…,” he said. “Everything I provided in the data to this board, and anything we gathered through the last nine months of studying this item, are legit.”
Of the 114 emails he received directly while the board considered the ordinance, Roddan said 76 supported it and 38 were against.
“Sixty-seven percent of people that I spoke with wanted it,” he said. “And my email (address) was on their campaign flyer, so I received a lot more emails than the rest of the board.”
Roddan, who provided The Press Times with a copy of an email making accusations about him, said emails board members received from ordinance opponents “accused me of ethical violations that are simply untrue and unfounded, that I manipulated data to fit an agenda of mine, that residents that all came to the meeting last time (on Sept. 20) were only there because I was buying beer afterwards.”
“I’ve got big shoulders – I can handle all of that,” he said. “But then they went on further to attack my wife and my kid, and that is (intolerable). My wife and my child were here on their own free will. I didn’t ask them to be here. They came here by themselves… To say that they were there because I demanded that they be there is simply not true.”
Roddan asked the group of ordinance opponents to be “kind enough to contact me first before spreading false narratives, especially false narratives such as that, because that gets into an ethical issue, especially indicating that I would buy beer, if these people show up for a meeting.”
“If that individual would have simply just called me, and we could have had a conversation, it would have stopped a lot of this,” he said.
Roddan said democracy prevailed Sept. 20 when the board discussed an item that had been on the agenda for about nine months.
“We allowed residents to speak at many different occasions, and then publicly, we actually cast votes on an ordinance and passed an ordinance,” he said. “That’s democracy as well.”
The board last month also authorized the use of $5,500 in contingency funds for installing ATV/UTV signage prior to the ordinance taking effect, though representatives of the local ATV/UTV club pledged to donate that amount to the village.