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ATV ordinance debated at council

By Staff | Dec 7, 2012

At its Dec. 3 meeting, the Rugby City Council debated the merits of a ordinance that would allow people as young as 12 years old to drive off-highway vehicles in Rugby as travel to areas outside of the city where they are permitted to ride ATVs.

The ordinance had its first reading at the meeting and passed with seven of eight council members voting in favor.

Under state law, youths between 12 and 16 must either have a valid driver’s license or have an ATV safety certificate.

Only council member James Hoffert voted against the ordinance as it read.

“The major issue is age,” he said. “I don’t think a 12-year-old has got the judgment to be driving our city streets in the flow of traffic and crossing major highways to get in and out of town. I think there’s a major safety issue with our normal citizen traffic.”

Police Chief John Rose said the department has received some complains about ATV drivers, but more about noise and issues with riding on private property.

At a public safety committee meeting on Nov. 21, Kathy Steen spoke about her opposition of the proposed ordinance.

“I felt uneasy even going to the grocery store,” she said. “It’s different seeing this kind of vehicle on the road.”

Steen framed it mostly as a safety issue, saying “I don’t think the streets are meant for having a good time.”

Aside from Hoffert, no other council member took particular issue with the ordinance, which will have its second reading at the next council meeting on Jan. 7.

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