Elk Mound village board designates snowmobile routes, adopts ordinance changes

By Cara L. Dempski

ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound village board voted last Wednesday to update a pair of village ordinances pertaining to snowmobile and ATV/UTV use, and approved a designated snowmobile route in the village.

The Elk Mound village president and trustees voted unanimously to approve changes to ordinance 10-3 regarding snowmobile routes and operations, and ordinance 10-4 regarding all-terrain and utility terrain vehicle operations during an October 4 general meeting.

[emember_protected] Changes were made to the ordinances after a meeting with the Elk Lake Blizzard Breakers snowmobile club regarding use of snowmobiles in the village limits. Interim police chief Mike Tietz said the laws were reviewed by the local club and public safety committee, both of whom identified some edits before proposed changes were presented to the village’s ordinance attorney, Alan Harvey.

After Harvey rewrote the two ordinances, they were presented last Wednesday at the board meeting and were approved unanimously.

Also under discussion at the meeting was a planned snowmobile route using land between the railroad tracks and village buildings as part of a route into town from the east.

“There’s an alleyway that runs through here,” Tietz explained to the board. “Initially, we didn’t think there was going to be any issue with that (using that space as part of the trail), but having communicated their written request for permission to use it Mark (Levra) was gracious enough to go out today and plot that out. In plotting it out, we find there’s some significant issues with that.”

Among the issues Tietz identified for the board at the meeting were concerns conveyed by Elk Mound fire chief Lester Schaefer via trustee Terry Stamm.

Tietz reported Schaefer has some serious concerns about the trail crossing a parking area and rear access to the fire department. Levra placed stakes behind the buildings to give board members a chance to see the area under discussion, and the interim chief asked the board if it would like to take a break to go outdoors to see the area in question.

President Steven Abraham instead suggested a different approach.

“My thought, number one, it’s dark out there, and we could all probably get a chance sometime in the next few weeks to visit out there and maybe talk to Mark and see what we’re talking about in the light of day,” he explained. “That would also give us time to talk to the snowmobile clubs and the fire chief, and come back with a little clearer idea of things so we can act on it.”

Abraham’s suggestion was met with a motion to table further discussion of the route until the second October meeting.

Tietz also notified the board the club submitted a land use permit agreement, which is standard in situations like this, but expressed some concerns about it.

“In looking at it, it somewhat constitutes a contract, and has some language in it that if there’s permitted use out there (the alley behind the village buildings), would need to be negotiated beyond this standard contract,” he said. “There’s some things in here that are probably not to the benefit or interest of the village.”

Tietz later stated he was concerned about statements in the agreement that seemed to indicate the club would be able to build bridges and culverts as necessary.

The board unanimously approved Resolution 17-3 designating a snowmobile within village limits using County Highway H as a north-south corridor, and allowing access to businesses such as the Pourhouse, Elk Mound Seed, Jensen’s Auto Repair and the Junction via County Highway H/Holly Avenue, Railroad Street, and Fir Avenue.

The route does not allow a route into or out of the village from the west, and without a set trail that does not use US Highway 12 from the east, there was concern from some business owners about how the new route would impact sales, which appears to have been mitigated by the Highway H/Holly Avenue route.

In an email exchange provided by members of the Blizzard Breakers Snowmobile Club the following day, members indicated they would be walking away from any further attempt to set up a route through town prior to the upcoming snowmobile season.

The person sending the email, who declined identification, wrote: “As an organization of volunteers, we have done our best to provide safe, legal passage for our local riders. I have not been able to find proof of any issues with snowmobiles that have come up over the last few decades, and I hope that trend continues.”

The letter further stated the club would not be supporting any trails past the gas station on the east side of the village for the 2017-2018 riding season.

Included in the email train was Tietz’s response indicating the main issue from the village’s standpoint was the club needing permission from private property owners, the railroad, and/or the village for use of a safe corridor.

He reiterated the village’s openness to continuing conversation and clarification.

Tietz pointed out village residents using snowmobiles are still allowed to ride the vehicles in town in order to access trails.

Other business

The board also approved a Dunn County Recreation plan presented by Addison Vang, the county Planner and Zoning Enforcement Officer, and heard a presentation from Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Director Morgan Gerk regarding the department’s offerings, and plans for the village collection site on Elk Mound Drive.

Gerk explained there will be some changes to the site’s current compost area to comply with the DNR’s licensing standard, and to policies for disposal of animal carcasses and remains.

The current compost area at Elk Mound is not large enough to meet the DNR licensing guidelines, which Gerk is pursuing for the site. He said he hopes to meet with the board in the near future to discuss how best to address the issue and bring the site into compliance.

Likewise, he indicated the Dunn County Transfer Station and Recycling Center will only accept animal carcasses and remains during certain times of the year. For the 2017 deer season, a line 30-yard dumpster will be at the transfer station from October 25 through December 21, and will require animal disposal fee of $3 per carcass to offset the cost of landfilling the material.

He further noted carcasses and remains will no longer be accepted at any of the county collection stations.

The move was made out of concern for employees suffering biological hazards associated with animal disease and decomposition.

The board also voted to move the second October meeting from the 18th to October 25, and approve liquor licenses for Tiffany Schrantz and Michelle Mousel at the Elk Mound Travel Stop. [/emember_protected]