(Beaver Dam) ATV and UTV enthusiasts packed Beaver Dam council chambers for a public involvement meeting Monday night. A draft ordinance several months in the making would allow all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles to be driven on certain city streets.
Excluded are the major thoroughfares like North Center and North Spring streets along with Park Avenue, Front Street, Madison Street, Industrial Drive and Gateway Drive.
No one spoke in opposition to ATVs. If there was a common message among the speakers it was to abandon restrictions on any roadway and open the entire city to ATV and UTV traffic.
Supporters touted tourism benefits, pointing out that businesses like restaurants and gas stations would be difficult to access with the restrictions outlined in the ordinance and noting that main thoroughfares are wider and have greater visibility.
City Administrator Nathan Thiel responded by saying that ATV operators may have to get out and walk a half of a block to a restaurant, but access would be available from a side street
“That’s what the thought process was, and also trying to maintain safety,” Thiel says.
The proposed ordinance also restricts usage on public property and in city-owned parks, limits noise and bans cruising. ATVs would be prohibited from operating between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Riders would have to be at least 16 years old, licensed, registered and insured, and would have to be restrained by a seatbelt or similar system, while those under age 18 would need a helmet. Headlights and taillights would have to be on at all times. Tire chains or studded tires would not be allowed. Golf carts and dune buggies are not included in the draft ordinance.
The Beaver Dam Police Department would be responsible for enforcement along with any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the city including the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources.
Thiel says the next step is to consolidate public comments for review before the city’s Operations Committee. If given the green light, staff would redraft the ordinance as needed before it goes to the council floor where there would be an opportunity for a formal public hearing before the vote.