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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has agreed to move forward with developing an All Terrain Vehicle and Utility Terrain Vehicle ordinance that would allow the vehicles to operate on all village streets.
Before an ordinance could go into effect, the village board would have to approve it, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation would have to approve it, and the ordinance would have to be published in the Colfax Messenger, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s July 13 meeting.
The public safety committee met two weeks ago about ATVs/UTVs and recommended they be allowed to operate on all village streets from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days per year, at 15 miles per hour, said Scott Gunnufson, village president.
The speed would have to be decreased to 10 mph because state regulations say ATVs/UTVs can only operate at 10 mph when they are within 150 feet of a residence, and there are not many streets in Colfax where they would not be close to a residence, Niggemann said.
Because state Highway 40, for the most part, is 35 mph or less, the village could authorize ATVs/UTVs to operate except where Highway 40 goes to 45 mph, and WisDOT would have to review the ordinance, she said.
If ATV/UTV operators wanted to go to Kyle’s Market, for example, they would have to take side streets before Highway 40 turns to 45 mph just after the Grapevine Senior Center.
State Highway 170 would have to be excluded because the posted speed limit is greater than 35 mph, and according to state regulations, the village board could not authorize ATVs/UTVs to operate on Highway 170 within the village limits.
State Highway 170 also has the bridge over the Red Cedar River, and while state regulations allow ATVs/UTVs to cross bridges, they would have to exit Highway 170 as soon as possible, and there are no village streets off Highway 170 west of the bridge, Niggemann said.
Also after crossing the 170 bridge, the trail cannot dead-end, so ATVs/UTVs could not go to Tom Prince Memorial Park, turn around, and cross the bridge back into town, she said.
People are going to wonder why they can go to Kyle’s Market but not the ball diamond, Gunnufson commented.
Niggemann said she could submit a request for ATVs/UTVs to use 170 to reach the ball field, but based on the statute, WisDOT would probably deny it.
“Is it a dead-end to go to the ball park? I don’t know,” she said.
Several village board members wondered if the ATVs/UTVs could cross the bridge and then travel through Stuart Park to reach Tom Prince Memorial Park, but as it turns out, the 40 mph sign is immediately west of the bridge with a length of guardrail beyond that for some distance.
The ATV/UTV ordinance should open up the village as much as possible, Gunnufson said.
Allowing ATVs/UTVs to operate in Colfax “will benefit all of the businesses,” said Rand Bates, director of public works.
Several years ago, the Dunn County ATV/UTV Association approached the village board about a route through the village, but at that time, village board members were opposed to the vehicles operating on village streets. If the ATV/UTV association could get approval from other townships and the county for a route that would bring them to county Highway M, the village board had agreed they could use Railroad Avenue to Highway 40/Main Street but would have to go back out to M on Railroad Avenue and would not be allowed to operate anywhere else in the village.
Members of the Dunn County ATV/UTV Association pointed out that allowing the vehicles to operate anywhere in the village would benefit the gas stations, restaurants and taverns, but village board members were adamant they could only use Railroad Avenue.
Colfax residents Kyle Kressin and Dave Hovre attended the public safety committee meeting two weeks ago and said they planned to start a local ATV/UTV club.
Gunnufson said the ordinance should include Highways 170 and 40 and then wait to see if the ordinance obtains approval from WisDOT.
The Colfax Village Board agreed to accept the public safety committee’s recommendation to move forward with the ATV/UTV ordinance, including Highways 170 and 40, and bring the ordinance to the village board for approval.
If the ordinance does not pass the WisDOT review, it would be expected to come back to the village board for amendments.