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New ATV/UTV Ordinance For County

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

With many of the surrounding counties already having ordinances in place regarding ATVs and UTVs on secondary roads, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors discussed and voted on an ordinance for the county at their regular meeting Tuesday, February 16.

“I have several ordinances sitting on my desk and here, there’s lots of other counties doing this. What defines what you can ride on there is all defined by the Code (Code of Iowa). The number one point I question is that you can only drive 35 miles per hour. Some ordinances say that others don’t,” Supervisor Keith Wirtz began.

“How fast do they travel?” Supervisor Ed Noonan asked.

“They got some that will probably go 50-60 mph I’m sure,” Wirtz replied. “To me that (35 mph) gives the cops the right to go out and follow everyone around to see if you are speeding, I just don’t think you need that.”

ATVs/UTVs are subject to the same rules as any other vehicle on the roadways. They must have a headlight, a taillight, brake lights and mirrors. Also there must be a licensed driver, have proof of insurance and the vehicle must be registered. As with other vehicles, farm related vehicles are exempt.

With further discussion the Board agreed to raise the speed to 55 mph and allow ATV/UTV usage on secondary roads in the county, provided rules are adhered to. The ordinance will take affect March 1. Approval was unanimous.

The Supervisors completed a canvasing of the two special elections that were held Tuesday, February 9, agreeing with the outcomes. The absentee ballots cast in the election for Ward 2 were: Ryan Berkland 28 votes, Margay Grose 17 votes and John Thorn 0 votes. There were no write in votes cast. The absentee ballots for the Iowa Lakes Community College Bond Referendum were: yes 165 votes and no 90 votes.

Palo Alto County Treasurer Robin Jamison was on hand to discuss the Supervisors consideration to abate taxes at 1207 South St. in Ayrshire and assign a tax certificate to James Schmidt of Ayrshire. The special assessments by Iowa Lakes Regional Water for approximately $2700 will stay with the current owner. With some further discussion, the Supervisors tabled the issue until the county attorney could be consulted.

In further business, Lee Wegener, who has a hog confinement in Independence Township, approached the Supervisors with getting the road upgraded so it would be plowed during the winter.

“I have talked to Walter a couple of times and the road has only been plowed three times this winter. The grader comes from the north and turns around at my last drive instead of continuing south,” Wegener told the Board.

The second of road in question is on 540th Ave. between Sections Eight and Nine in Independence Township. Placing a call to Secondary Roads Supervisor George Hubbel, the Board learned that to upgrade this section of road from Level B to Level A needs to be agreed upon by the Supervisors and then presented to the county engineer. It was the consensus of the Board to discuss the issue with Palo Alto County Supervisor Walter Davis-Oeth and do what is needed to resolve the issue.

In final business, Cynda Joynt, Outreach Director for Upper Des Moines Opportunity in Emmetsburg introduced Penny Murphy to the Board of Supervisors. Penny will be the new General Assistance person for Palo Alto County and will be in the office in the basement of the courthouse in Emmetsburg on Tuesdays and Thursdays.