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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved an updated snowmobile ordinance and resolution for the village that includes allowing access through the alley from Railroad Avenue by Synergy Cooperative to Express Mart.
Mike Buchner, president of the Colfax Sno-drifters, attended the Colfax Village Board’s February 11 meeting to give an update on snowmobile trail signs in the village.
While signs have been put up in the village, not all of the signs have not yet been installed. Up until the first full week in February, there was not enough snow to open the snowmobile trails in Dunn County, he said.
The village board approved a snowmobile ordinance and resolution in March of 2018 after Buchner brought it to the village’s attention that in the 1970s, snowmobiles had been allowed to operate in the village to take the shortest route to a trail, but that somehow, the ordinance was no longer in existence and snowmobiles were no longer allowed to operate within the village limits.
According to the resolution approved by the village board, designated snowmobile trails in Colfax are the east side of Dunn Street to Railroad Avenue, east to County Road M, north to state Highway 40; the east side of Dunn Street to Railroad Avenue, east toward the east driveway of the Colfax Fairgrounds to the footbridge, across Highway 40 to Johnson-Olson road, west on High Street to Colfax High School; east side of Dunn Street to Railroad Avenue, west to Synergy Cooperative.
The resolution also states the Synergy Cooperative parking lot is designated parking if snowmobile riders plan to visit any of the businesses on Highway 40/Main Street.
Generally speaking, the speed limit on the street is the speed limit at which snowmobiles are allowed to operate, unless the snowmobile is operating within 100 feet of a house, and then the speed limit is 10 miles per hour, Buchner noted.
Snowmobiles were previously allowed to take the shortest route from a place of residence to a designated snowmobile trail so that snowmobile owners did not have to load their snowmobiles onto a trailer to only haul them a few blocks to the trail, he said.
Although Buchner mentioned several times during the course of the meeting about the provision of being able to take the shortest route from a residence to a trail, except for riding on Highway 40/Main Street, the village board did not directly address the issue.
The village’s snowmobile ordinance and resolution also do not directly address the issue of whether snowmobiles can take the shortest route from a residence to a trail.
The ordinance does, however, prohibit operating snowmobiles on private premises without the permission of the property owner. The ordinance also prohibits operating snowmobiles on sidewalks, pedestrian walkways or malls in the village and prohibits operation on public rights-of-way, public parks, golf courses or on any public property.
The resolution also includes the provision that the Village of Colfax will meet with the Colfax Sno-drifters annually to discuss the intended routes.
Anne Jenson, village trustee and owner of A Little Slice of Italy, said one night when she was leaving the restaurant, she noticed a truck circling parked snowmobiles in the Synergy parking lot.
The circling truck seemed suspicious, so Jenson said she called the Blind Tiger and the Outhouse to alert snowmobile owners that someone appeared to be eyeing their snowmobiles.
Snowmobile owners, it would seem, are not too eager to leave their parked snowmobiles too far away from an establishment where they are doing business because snowmobiles are easy to take.
Buchner noted that one time he and a group of snowmobile riders had parked at the Ridgeland feed mill. When they came back to get their snowmobiles, one was missing, and one person ended up riding back to Colfax with another member of the group.
If there are two people to lift the snowmobile, “it doesn’t take long to grab one and put it on a truck,” he said.
The Colfax Village Board approved the updated snowmobile ordinance and resolution for the 2019-2020 season.
The modified resolution allows snowmobile riders to take the alley east of Synergy to Express Mart.
The modified ordinance states that the Chief of Police can declare the trails in Colfax closed due to weather conditions, emergencies, or abuse of the trails.
The existing ordinance states the Chief of Police can declare the trails closed because of weather conditions or an emergency.
The updated ordinance and resolution will go into effect after publication in the Colfax Messenger.