If a work session is designed to work toward a consensus on a particular issue, the Platteville Common Council work session July 24 on the city’s proposed ATV/UTV ordinance did not accomplish that.
Two aldermen said, either at the meeting or afterward, that they were opposed to either legalizing ATV/UTV use of any kind or the proposed ordinance specifically.
District 1 Ald. Don Francis suggested scrapping the ordinance and starting over, while saying that he wouldn’t vote to legalize ATV or UTV use in the city.
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian said the ordinance was “not well enough written,” and said he wouldn’t vote for the ordinance as it then existed.
At-large Ald. Cena Sharp said in a statement Monday morning (see related story on page 1 and page 4A) that “Allowing ATVs and UTVs through Platteville creates risks for all of us and I think we all need to consider the consequences of this decision we make together.”
The council is expected to vote on the proposed ATV/UTV ordinance, including where ATVs or UTVs could be operated, Aug. 14, six weeks after the council postponed a vote at the request of ATV and UTV owners.
Some aldermen suggested holding a second work session sometime before the Aug. 14 scheduled vote, though no work session was scheduled in the week after the July 24 work session.
Common Council president Eileen Nickels said there had been “too much public input” to scrap the ordinance.
Whenever the vote takes place on whatever is finally decided, the vote will follow an open house, a survey with 277 responses, and input from city committees, Platteville Public Schools and UW–Platteville and two council meetings.
District 3 Ald. Barb Daus suggested two specific changes to the ordinance — allowing operation for less time than the originally proposed 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and extending the time ATVs and UTVs would be banned to match city alternate-side parking regulations — Nov. 15 to March 31, instead of Dec. 1 to March 15.
Daus also suggested taking removing some proposed streets off the map of ATV/UTV routes, including possibly Main Street, though she suggested allowing ATVs and UTVs on Furnace Street or Pine Street to allow at least walking access to Main Street.
Sharp proposed limiting ATV and UTV use to “dawn ‘til dusk,” in part because of the difficulty of seeing hand signals from drivers of ATVs and UTVs that don’t have turn signals. She suggested the ordinance have “higher standards” than the state law or county ordinances, calling it a “moral issue.”
City manager Karen Kurt said seven communities with designated routes were contacted by the city, with “some favorable business impact” and more traffic, “especially in the summer and early fall,” with few problems reported, although public education was needed.
Police Lt. Bruce Buchholtz said a Menomonie police sergeant “suggested keeping it simple so it’s simple to enforce.”
Francis and other speakers during the work session noted that ATV and UTV owner’s manuals do not recommend on-road driving.
North Water Street home owner Bob Harding said his house wasn’t sold for a year due to street traffic. He predicted that authorizing ATVs and UTVs would create traffic beyond state-recommended levels for the three-lane stretch of South Water Street from East Pine Street to Business 151.
Austin Polebitski said the ordinance should not go forward until regional transportation experts are consulted about the routes.
“I don’t know best practices, but this one’s not appearing to work,” he said.
Platteville Regional Chamber executive director Kathy Kopp said the chamberis emphasizing outdoor tourism, and ATVs and UTVs are “the fastest growing outdoor sport in the state.” Kopp said families trailering ATVs and UTVs often stop at the chamber offices and the Travel Information Center and “want to stop here, but they move on when they find out there’s no access.”
“I put money in the trail, I put money in” the Platteville Community Arboretum, said Bob Digman, who noted that there is no feasible way to get around Platteville. “Just help us get through Platteville.”
Town of Platteville resident Sue Wehnke said a recent ATV/UTV route sign fundraiser at The BarN included visitors from Iowa who came “to find out what do you as a city have to offer.” She said ATV riders can ride from Monroe to Prairie du Chien, “and it’s Platteville that is stopping that.”
Business owner Nick Pease noted studies that report annual ATV/UTV traffic of 19,000 on the Cheese Country Trail. “And you are saying to small business owners we don’t want 20,000 people here. Which is insane. ... We’re talking about a significant number of people coming to Platteville. To me that’s what this is about.”
“I think there is a need to find a happy medium,” said Sharp. “I don’t think this is something we should push through … there’s a solution here, and I don’t think it should be made tonight.”
“I feel as a group we want to be able to walk away and be able to justify each specific route,” said at-large Ald. Robin Cline.
Francis said it was “probably a good idea to scrap it and start over” because there are “too many bad parts on this proposal in the first place. It’s already a bad proposal. … Mostly this ordinance is asked to change the law with no evidence that it’s bad law.”
Francis then said “I still would be against it; they’re not meant for roads,” while adding, “I’m just one person out of seven.”
A majority of City of Platteville residents who took the city’s survey favor legalizing ATV and UTV routes in the city, but only a plurality support the proposed ATV/UTV map — 136 support the proposed ATV/UTV routes, while 23 support some but not all routes, and 116 do not support the proposed routes.
The survey showed majority support for ATV/UTV use of some sort, with 113 respondents supporting “broad ATV/UTV use,” 25 supporting the “limited” proposed routes, 36 saying they were open to ATV/UTV use while saying the city should choose only one trail route, and 100 opposing ATVs and UTVs in the city.
The ordinance would require that drivers have a valid driver’s license and liability insurance, and ATVs and UTVs to have working headlights and taillights, though taillights are not required by state law. Passengers would be required to wear seat belts. Open intoxicants would be prohibited.
The proposed ATV routes include Grant County B through the city, from the west city limits on Main Street to the east city limits at Hazel Dell Road; Business 151 from the west city limits to Valley Road; Water Street (Wisconsin 80/81) from Business 151 to Pitt Street; Lancaster Street (Wisconsin 81) from Adams Street to the north city limits; Adams Street (Wisconsin 81) from Lancaster Street to North Chestnut Street; East Madison Street from North Water Street to Broadway; Ridge Avenue; North Second Street from Ridge to Sylvia Street; Sylvia Street; and Pitt Street from North Second Street to North Water Street.
Downtown streets where ATVs and UTVs would be allowed include Main Street west of Broadway, Pine Street from South Chestnut Street to South Water Street, Chestnut Street from West Pine Street to West Adams Street, Furnace Street from North Chestnut Street to Broadway, and Third Street from Main Street to Furnace Street.
The ordinance would ban ATV use on streets with speed limits of 40 mph or faster, including East Business 151 east of Valley Road.
ATVs and UTVs are not allowed on the David P. Canny Rountree Branch Trail or the Mound View State Trail under terms of the state Department of Natural Resources matching grants the city and Lafayette County respectively received to build the trail.
The proposed ordinance would ban ATV and UTV driving and parking in public places from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and from Dec. 1 to March 15.
The proposed hours did not have majority support of those surveyed, with 129 supporting them, 34 supporting different hours, and 144 opposing the proposed hours.