Assembly rejects allowing ATVs on roads


October 13, 2011

The Haines Borough Assembly in a 3-2 vote Tuesday ditched an often-delayed ordinance that would have permitted the operation of all-terrain vehicles on some borough roads.

"This could be simple," said assemblyman Scott Rossman. "It’s complicated because everybody sat around and made it complicated."

Members Jerry Lapp and Steve Vick voted against the ordinance, making it come up short of the four votes needed for advancement to a fourth public hearing.

"What I don’t like about this ordinance anymore is you drug snowmachines into it," Lapp said. "Right now, we’ve already got snowmachines on the books, and they’re a lot less restrictive than what this ordinance does to them, so I don’t even like that ordinance anymore."

The title of the ordinance discussed Tuesday referred to authorizing "the use of ATVs on streets and highways within the borough and allowing use of snowmachines on highway shoulders within the borough."

Police chief Gary Lowe previously had voiced his opposition to the ordinance.

"If you want to write an ordinance that you know, right off the beginning, you’re going to end up writing a lot of tickets towards, this is it," Lowe said.

He met with assemblyman Daymond Hoffman and resident Jim Shook this week to go over proposed changes to the ordinance, which was introduced in June and later adjusted to include only unpaved borough roads.

"The intent of this is to be able to legally ride, basically, in neighborhoods," Hoffman said.

Shook, who prepared a draft ordinance in support of ATV use earlier this year, said he backed 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours for ATV use, to limit alcohol and noise concerns.

He said education would be important for implementing the ordinance, "to avoid any of the pitfalls or assumptions on the part of operators."

"I would be willing to volunteer to do ATV classes, which someone would have to take in advance of getting permission to operate an ATV in the borough," Shook said.

The ordinance would have required operators to be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license and annual borough road-use permit.

Chief Lowe said adoption of the "complicated" ordinance would lead to "a lot of paperwork" from unintentional violations.

"There will be a group of people like Jim Shook and maybe a dozen people that are going to know this frontwards and backwards," he said. "They’re going to abide by everything in there, and there’s going to be a large mass of people that’s going to say, ‘Oh, good, we can ride our ATV,’ and hop on them and go."

Lowe said another issue he had with the ordinance was non-ATV users would be forced to "deal with excessive fumes or loud noise or dust created by the ATVs."

"We are still going to get those complaints, and there will be people that will not want to have ATVs operated in their neighborhood, because it affects their quality of life," he said. "That’s your decision to make; I think the ordinance goes as far as it can to balance that."

Shook was the only resident to speak in support of the ordinance Tuesday. He recently chaired the Haines Recall Committee that put votes to potentially toss assembly members Hoffman and Joanne Waterman out of office on the ballot. Both Hoffman and Waterman voted in favor of advancing the ATV ordinance to another hearing.


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