SIOUX CITY -- Five people, including County Sheriff Dave Drew, spoke Tuesday in support of a proposal to allow people to drive all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles on county gravel and blacktop roads, as the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors continue to process through an ordinance on the matter.
“I don’t see it as a big (law enforcement) issue for us,” Drew said.
The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing and first reading of a resolution that would designate some county roads as usable for ATV's and UTV's. The public hearing was part of the three required readings of the resolution, which contains content for an ordinance that could go up for a final vote by the five supervisors in November.
Among the five people to weigh in was Don Groves, of rural Bronson, Iowa, who presented a petition with 279 signatures of people who want the county to allow the all-terrain vehicles.
“They are ATV riders, non-ATV riders…There are probably more non-ATV riders on that list,” Groves said.
The issue was brought for discussion by the supervisors last month by county board chairman Rocky De Witt. De Witt said there are people on both sides of the issue, so it will be good to air it in a board meeting. He noted that 42 Iowa counties allow the all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles to be driven.
Iowa code doesn't allow all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles on primary highways or federal interstates. Individual counties can set their own rules for ATV's on county roads.
Many Woodbury County towns have recently approved ATV use on streets.
Larry Guthridge, of rural Kingsley, said he and his sons run a 3,000-head livestock operation, and drive ATV’s over about four miles of roads in northern Woodbury County.
“We have been running ATV’s up and down county roads, under the pretense that they are implements,” Guthridge said.
Drew said deputies have noticed people driving ATV’s and UTV’s on county roads, but have made no large practice of ticketing them. He likened it to fireworks calls near Fourth of July, before their use was legally broadened in Iowa in 2017, as “not much of a priority” in public safety enforcement.
Woodbury County Engineer Mark Nahra, who oversees the county roads system, in two previous board meetings opposed the measure, saying ATV's tear up gravel roads and could cause injuries to people.
De Witt asked if any people at the meeting opposed allowing ATV’s on county roads, and none of the dozen people raised their hands. No county supervisors spoke against the proposal.
Dennis Taylor, of Sioux City, said driving ATV’s is a more fuel-efficient way for farmers to travel for some duties, compared to driving large rigs.
Woodbury County Conservation Board Director Dan Heissel and Nahra said some people currently use ATV’s and motorcycles to illegally travel on county park lands, such as at gravel pits.
“If they are cutting up the parks, cutting through the parks, I’d like some teeth” in fines, Heissel said.
The measure being considered said violations of the ordinance would constitute a simple misdemeanor, punishable by fines ranging from $65 to $625 and up to 30 days in jail. Supervisor Matthew Ung said that range of fines should be narrowed.
The resolution’s second reading will likely come in November.
“We still have some groundwork to do, some answers to get,” De Witt said.