Council allows ATVs on city streets

The Fairfield City Council passed the final reading of an ordinance Monday that allows all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles on city streets.

The ordinance passed unanimously 7-0. Councilors voting in favor were Doug Flournoy, Michael Halley, Katy Anderson, John Revolinski, Martha Rasmussen, Tom Thompson and Daryn Hamilton.

The ordinance is modeled on the one passed by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors allowing those same vehicles on county roads. The ordinance does not include golf carts, and it does permit ATVs/UTVs to drive on streets with a posted speed limit above 35 miles per hour, though ATVs/UTVs will be restricted to 35 mph on those streets.

Ralph and Linda Messerli attended the meeting, and were pleased to see the ordinance pass. Ralph said the couple has used either an ATV or UTV for the past 18 years to move about their acreage on Key Boulevard, off Libertyville Road. The UTV they have now has power-steering, four-wheel drive, and holds all the tools they need to work around the yard.

Ralph said the ability to drive their UTV into town will save them a lot of time when they?re doing projects outdoors.

The Messerlis brought the issue of allowing ATVs/UTVs on city streets to the council after seeing the county supervisors pass an ordinance along those lines in April 2016. They got in touch with the council?s public safety committee consisting of Anderson, Flournoy and Revolinski, who used the county ordinance as a guide while making modifications of their own. They received input from Fairfield Police Chief David Thomas, City Attorney John Morrissey and Duke and Cid Schmidt, who were consulted because of their extensive knowledge of the vehicles.

Highlights of the ATV/UTV ordinance:

? Drivers must abide by all laws that apply to other motor vehicles;

? The vehicles must have a reflective slow-moving vehicle sign on the back;

? Passengers must use seatbelts if their vehicle has them;

? The vehicles can only be driven during daytime, specifically one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset;

? Though not mandatory, drivers are asked to use the shoulder of the road where possible and to wear a helmet;

? Headlights and taillights are mandatory ?at such times when conditions provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicle at a safe distance;?

? Driving in ditches is not allowed;

? The vehicles will be allowed on state highways in city limits, but not allowed on them outside city limits (per the county?s ordinance).


How to acquire a permit:

? Permits will be issued by the Jefferson County Law Center, and the permit allows the owner to use an ATV/UTV in both the city?s and county?s jurisdiction;

? Permits will only be issued if the owner can prove: 1) they are at least 18 years old; 2) the vehicle is registered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; 3) they have liability insurance;

? Permits will be valid from July 1 through June 30;

? Permit holders will be issued a number and a sticker to affix to the left rear of the vehicle in a place that can be easily seen by others viewing the vehicle from behind.