Petition to allow ATV/UTV usage on Henry County roads garners more than 570 signatures

MT. PLEASANT — More than 570 Henry County residents have signed a petition in favor of creating an ordinance that would allow the use of ATVs/UTVs on county roads. A small group of about 20 came to the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to show their support.

Citizens have been pushing the board to reconsider the idea as far back as March of this year, according to previous reporting in the Mt. Pleasant News. In September, supporters of the proposed ordinance that would allow the use of the vehicles on county roads attended the meeting.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, Carrie Duncan approached the board and once again asked the members to reconsider. She said a similar ordinance has been passed in surrounding counties and did not understand why the supervisors would not pass the ordinance. She said allowing the usage of the vehicles would help attract the younger generation to the county and promote the area.

“We’re moving on to future generations and I feel we need to be promoting our younger generation in this county,” she said.

A petition was presented to the supervisors with 574 signatures that were gathered within the last two weeks. Chairman Greg Moeller said one concern he had with passing the ordinance was that each individual town had its own rules and regulations regarding ATV/UTV usage.

Ron Becker, of Weaver, attended the meeting Tuesday morning and said he rides his vehicle in Lee County and has spoken to the sheriff there who has no problems. He asked the supervisors why they were “dead set” against adopting the ordinance, to which vice chairman Gary See said the board was not “dead set” but only voted against it previously.

He said he was narrowly against the idea based on information he learned at the ISAC (Iowa State Association of Counties) conference where he heard from a panel where two of the three members were against the idea of allowing the ordinances within the counties. He said he was also disappointed the legislature had not made the decision because he felt it should be up to the state, not the individual counties as it currently is.

Duncan said she felt the purpose of local government was to listen to the people and mae the right decision for them, not the state.

“It should be part of your decision to make this and not pass it on to the state because you have your responsibilities to your constituents,” she said.

Moeller said another hold up he had was the vehicles are designated for off-road purposes but the group was requesting they be allowed to drive on county roads. Becker said all terrain is all terrain and if farmers were able to drive tractors, used for ag purposes on the roads, they should be able to use their vehicles.

Safety came up as a main concern for Moeller, too. Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee said he was aware of fatal accidents because of ATVs/UTVs, but the same could be said for cars, motorcycles, airplanes and farm equipment. He offered to pull safety data for the supervisors to review to help them make the decision.

No decision on whether the board will adopt an ordinance was declared but the supervisors agreed to rethink their decision once more.