County moves to end sunset on ATV/UTV usage

State to close down Hwy. 2 on stretch west of Donnellson for seven months in 2021.

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Lee County Supervisors are looking to end the sunset clause in an ordinance created last year to allow ATVs and UTVs on county roads.

At Tuesday’s regular board meeting, Supervisors discussed the ordinance with Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber.

Weber said the county has had no major issues with regard to usage of the vehicles on secondary roads. Weber went so far as to say the operators are doing a good job “policing themselves.”

“We’ve had very little issues in the county. People have been very respectful and really have done a good job of policing themselves which we appreciate.” Weber said.

“Just this morning I passed a UTV operating lawfully and he had his speed set at exactly 35mph. Really gentleman, I think this has been a good thing for the county and I think it would be safe to proceed.”

The ordinance was set to sunset on Dec. 31, 2020 which required the Board of Supervisors to review the ordinance and the impact on the county.

Board Chair Ron Fedler said, after speaking with Weber and Lee County Attorney Ross Braden earlier this week, he would prefer that the sunset be eliminated from the ordinance.

“I have talked with sheriff and county attorney and both had no objection and said that there really wasn’t a lot of problems or incidents,” Fedler said.
“After talking to Ross, he suggested since this was an ordinance, we pass a provision to eliminate the sunset clause, but do it as an ordinance with three readings.”

Supervisor Rich Harlow asked if the current time frames allowing the vehicles on roads from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. was working or if that needed to be addressed.

Fedler said he would prefer to leave everything as is, but just remove the sunset.

“4 to 10 has worked pretty well, and as the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Fedler said.

Supervisor-elect Garry Seyb, Jr., said he recently purchased and permitted a UTV and said the hours are working great.

“Anything being done during the other times would lend itself to problems,” Seyb said.

The board approved a motion to move forward with eliminating the sunset clause on a unanimous vote. The new ordinance will be up for a first reading next week and will require three readings to pass.

In an unrelated issue, the board approved signing an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation to detour a section of Hwy. 2 onto county secondary roads to allow for repairs.

County Engineer Ben Hull said a segment of Hwy. 2 between Donnellson and Farmington needs to be closed for repairs for an extended period of time to replace two bridges.

Hull said he’s seen an uptick of overweight loads trying to find away around the county to get off state roads because their not allowed to go over those bridges.

“They are proposing, and this is estimated, between April 1 and Nov. 21 2021 that section would be closed.”

He said a detour would take motorists north out of Farmington on W46 to Harmony school and then east on J40 until they get to Hwy. 218.

The agreement would provide for compensation to the county for deterioration to the roads. The state would make reparations if they can show deterioration. The compensation would come from a formula based on the gas consumption tax for the vehicles using the detours.

Hull said that would be approximately $29,000, but he said that would be based on any problems identified at the end of the agreement.

Fedler said the county has a good working relationship with the DOT and he is in favor of signing the agreement.

Seyb asked if the county will be monitoring other secondary roads people may use as shorter routes than the planned detour.

Hull said people could go back through Croton on a seal coated road until they get to Croton and then it would be gravel. He said J56 would also be an extension of Primrose Road and he’s anticipating that as well.

“The state’s not going to voluntarily compensate us for people taking unofficial detours. But this is a step in the right direction.”

In other action, the board:
• approved a $2.2 million repaving project for J40. Hull said the bid is 16% below estimated cost and is covered 100% by a Surface Transportation Block Grant so no local dollars would be spent on the work.

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