Board moves to open county roadways to ATV/UTV use
During its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors considered an ordinance amending the county code in regard to ATV traffic on county roadways.
During discussion, Supervisor Bill Zeitz spoke in opposition to the ordinance. Zeitz voiced his concern of possibly needing another Sheriff’s Department Recreation Deputy to patrol roadways, due to increased ATV/UTV traffic on county roads.
“We already have a ‘fella who patrols these trails for us, are we going to need another one?” Zeitz asked.
County Highway Commissioner Mike Van De Weerd stated Highway Committee policy allows him to close any road at any time to ATV traffic.
Other supervisors including Paul Gilk and Loretta Baughan also spoke against the ordinance, citing various safety concerns including speeding by owners/operators, and children being allowed to operate ATV/UTV’s on the roadways.
Lincoln County Corporation Counsel Nancy Bergstrom advised the board of liability concerns, if the roads were opened to ATV/UTV traffic.
“Lincoln County would take on extra liability if we open these roads,” Bergstrom stated. “There is also a question of whether or not our carrier would accept additional risk. Our carrier insures many cities and counties, so I expect for it to take some time to hear an answer from them.”
Supervisor Don Nelson spoke in favor of the ordinance, citing the added convenience for ATV/UTV enthusiasts in accessing various trails.
“ATV and UTV riders don’t really want to use paved roads,” Nelson added, “but often times they need to use roads to get from trail to trail. It’s not like we are going to have UTV’s and ATV’s running rampant throughout the county.”
Supervisor Jim Alber cautioned on making a rushed decision, asking the board to take time to consider all factors involved such as liability and owner/operator insurance.
Supervisor Bob Lee also favored the ordinance.
“I speak for the city of Tomahawk whose roads are open to ATV traffic,” Lee explained. “We also have walking and biking trails. Granted, we may have ATV riders who don’t have insurance, but we also have car drivers on the road without insurance.”
An estimated 25 community members turned out to witness discussion of the issue; 10 of those addressed the board.
Community members appeared equally divided on the ordinance. Residents from the area of County X expressed concerns of semi-truck traffic versus ATV traffic as well as visibility concerns of ATV riders. Residents from the area of County R spoke favorably of the ordinance, expressing a strong interest in ATV recreation; supporting Nelson’s view of added convenience in using roads to access other trails.
The board ultimately voted 13-9 to pass the ordinance. According to county clerk Chris Marlowe, the ordinance will go into effect once it has been signed and posted in local newspapers.
The ordinance designates the following county roadways to year-round use for All-Terrain Vehicle and Utility Terrain Vehicle use:
? CTH “X”- From STH 17 intersection to the Marathon County line-35 MPH
? CTH “J”-From STH 107 intersection to 1st Street-35 MPH
? CTH “J”- From CTH H intersection to the Langlade County line-35 MPH
? CTH “H”- From the CTH A intersection to Pier Street-35 MPH
? CTH “T”- From the STH 86 intersection to USH 9.-35 MPH
? CTH “O”- From the STH 86 to CTH E. -35 MPH
? CTH “A”- From USH 8 intersection to STH 17. -35 MPH
? CTH “N”- From the CTH L intersection to the Oneida County line-35 MPH
? CTH “Y”- From USH 8 to Oneida County Line-35 MPH
? CTH “U”- From USH 8 intersection to CTH A¬-35 MPH
? CTH “V”- From CTH S to CTH H-35 MPH
? CTH “S”- From CTH H intersection to the City of Tomahawk-35 MPH
? CTH “C”- From Pier Street intersection to the Langlade County line-35 MPH
? CTH “R”- From CTH K intersection to Heineman Road-35 MPH
? CTH “E”- From STH 86 intersection to STH 64-35 MPH
? CTH “M”- From CTH MM intersection to the Taylor County line-35 MPH
? CTH “MM”- From STH 64 intersection to CTH E-35 MPH
? CTH “K”- From Nelson Avenue intersection to CTH G-35 MPH
? CTH “G”- From CTH K intersection to Old 17.-35 MPH
? CTH “CCC”- From STH 17 intersection to the Langlade County line-35 MPH
? CTH “JJ” (Pier Street) From CTH J intersection to the City of Merrill-35 MPH
? CTH “P”- From the CTH W intersection to CTH X-35 MPH
? CTH “WW”- From CTH P intersection to the Marathon County line-35 MPH
In other matters on Tuesday evening, the board voted 14-8 to approve a resolution brought forth by Chairman Bob Lussow directing a review and simplification of the county’s zoning regulations.
“Zoning as we know it now, started 20-25 yrs ago,” Lussow explained. “In a quarter century, nothing stays the same and everything changes. This resolution is an attempt to review entire code and zoning regulation in Lincoln County, from top to bottom.”
The board engaged in lengthy discussion of the resolution. Supervisor Jeff Hetfeld spoke in opposition to the resolution, citing the high costs of examining each chapter of the code. Hetfeld stated he had been quoted an estimated $35-70,000 price tag per chapter and urged the board to reject the resolution.
“Everything is inter-connected and could get quite complex,” Hetfeld added.
Supervisor Curtis Powell also spoke against the resolution, citing such a review would be redundant.
“We reviewed the zoning code and made changes in 2001. In 2006 we re-visited the process. Doing so again would be fraught with redundancy in the sense this resolution is redoing what have redone, and redone and redone,” Powell said.
Other supervisors including Baughan and Zeitz spoke in favor of the resolution which would go on to pass 14-8.
Lussow announced supervisor Hetfeld had resigned from the Personnel Committee. An election was held Tuesday evening and Supervisor Julie Allen was elected to replace Hetfeld.
The next county board meeting is set for Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the Lincoln County Service Center in Merrill.