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City Requested To Amend ATV Ordinance

By Staff | Oct 30, 2008

Emmetsburg City Council discussed a request to allow operating ATV (all terrain vehicles) on city streets at their meeting Monday, Oct. 27.

“What would it take to get an ordinance to allow ATVs on the street?” asked Adrian Brennan of Emmetsburg. “Could they be treated the same as snowmobiles, so that we could get out of town on them? I’m not talking about running them down the highway, but on other streets.”

Brennan noted that ATVs are allowed on the streets in Estherville and Graettinger. He also pointed out that his ATV is equipped for snow removal, but the current ordinance will now allow ATVs to operate on the sidewalks or on the streets.

Emmetsburg City Attorney Brian Thul told the council there is not a provision in the Emmetsburg City Code for ingress or egress for ATVs. He added that ATVs are more similar to a snowmobile than a golf car.

Councilman Steve Finer said he had talked to a relative in a community where ATVs are allowed on city streets.

“They had problems at first, but then they started writing tickets under state law,” said Finer. “The punishment could affect your drivers license and the fine increased for repeat offenders.”

The current city code could be modified to include ATVs and snowmobiles.

“I’m not in favor of it at all,” said Police Chief Eric Hanson. “You can’t imagine how fast these things go. I think it would be opening a can of worms, but I’ll go with what the council says.”

The City Attorney will draw up an amended ordinance for the council to review.

Two weeks ago, the council had reviewed an increase in solid waste collection fees, negotiated by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. Mayor John Schad had stated that the Supervisors had not taken into consideration the recommendation of the Solid Waste Task Force. Schad also stated that when County Attorney Peter Hart was asked to clarify the difference between the old and new contracts, Hart had said he could not due to conflict of interest and recommended the city contact their own attorney.

City Attorney Brian Thul told the council Monday night that the city has a right to know exactly why the prices are going up.

“My recommendation is to find out more specifics why the cost is going up,” said Thul. Answering the mayor’s question about looking at different options for solid waste, Thul said “realistic options available to Emmetsburg seem limited.”

City Administrator John Bird will make contact with County Attorney Peter Hart to obtain additional information.