City Council approves new ATV ordinance following public hearing
by Lori Adler, reporter
Rhinelander city council met Monday and conducted a public hearing on the proposed ATV/UTV use ordinance. The proposal would allow for ATV/UTV riding on city streets.
A large group of citizens attended the meeting, and several offered comments to the council. Many pointed out the economic impact that allowing ATV use would bring to the city. Most comments were positive and in favor of the proposed ordinance, but there was one comment against the proposal, stating that there really wasn’t a need to ride an ATV on city streets since there was not an ATV trail that bisected the city.
In addition to Monday’s hearing, the proposed ordinance has been posted online, and public comments have been gathered. City council members have also heard from constituents. Public comments submitted online as well as expressed to council members have been split between for and against the proposal. Both Alderpersons Dawn Rog and Ryan Rossing expressed concern over passing the ordinance due to constituents in their districts being against the proposal.
Rossing did bring forth the idea of a referendum on this issue, allowing the proposal to be voted upon by city residents. When asked to provide information regarding a possible referendum, city administrator Daniel Guild explained that two types of referendums are possible: binding or advisory. The binding referendum, if passed, would not allow the council to make any changes to the ordinance for two years, while an advisory referendum was more like a poll of the citizens. Either ordinance would require the city to bear the full election cost unless the vote would take place during the next regularly scheduled election in February 2020.
Discussion ensued regarding the possibility of a referendum, but many council members felt it was important to move forward with the ordinance now since the discussion for this proposal has been ongoing since last year. “I believe we’ve done due diligence on this issue,” Mayor Chris Frederickson advised.
The ordinance was then brought to a vote and passed; council members Rossing and Rog voted against the ordinance. It is anticipated that the new ordinance will go into effect in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The ordinance allows for ATV/UTV use on all Rhinelander city streets except for Lincoln and Stevens.