July 7, 2011 |

Next ATV ordinance hearing delayed

The second public hearing for an ordinance to permit the operation of all-terrain vehicles on borough streets and roads has been set for Tuesday, July 26, to allow extra time for rewording.

"I think that clarity is really important in an ordinance like this, to make it as user-friendly as possible for the people who want to use ATVs," member Joanne Waterman said at the June 28 meeting of the Haines Borough Assembly.

Waterman said she found the proposed ordinance "very confusing in the fact that so many times it’s referenced to the Alaska Administrative Code and Alaska Statutes."

Borough clerk Julie Cozzi said adding more specific language would prevent the borough from inadvertently referring to outdated state laws in the ordinance.

"If we take the language from state law and drop the text into our code, it does become our language at that point, as opposed to just referencing or citing state law as it is right now," Cozzi said. "That’s where you run the risk of (the state) repealing or changing laws that you’ve pointed to, without realizing the changes."

Police chief Gary Lowe on June 28 said he agreed with Waterman about "spelling out, specifically, what we’re looking for" in the ordinance, and said, "One thing that I would absolutely pound my fist and demand is we have to have a helmet requirement."

"I pretty much have my opinion on (the ordinance), and I’ll have everything, in detail, written for you for your next meeting," Lowe said. "Generally, I’m opposed to the ordinance, just because I think there is a higher risk of people getting injured."

The ordinance sets a speed limit of 25 miles per hour for ATVs. Also, operators must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license and annual borough road-use permit.

Each borough-permitted ATV would have right and left rear-view mirrors, and "at least one functional headlight, taillight and brake light."

Three people spoke in support of the ordinance at the June 28 public hearing.

The draft discussed that evening still included a provision for ATV operation at Tlingit Park and the Fort Seward parade grounds between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., the same hours open for snowmachine use. Waterman earlier that month said she would like ATV use prohibited there.

"The ATVs are very much different, in those areas, than the snowmachines, and it’s been requested that those areas be removed from usage for the ATVs, so they’re not used in a recreational site, tearing up the sod and things like that," she said.

Borough manager Mark Earnest said changes for Tlingit Park and the parade grounds would be made before the ordinance is up for adoption.