The Ouray City Council voted 3-2 on Monday, May 19 to kill on first reading an ordinance that would have allowed Off-Highway Vehicles to operate on city streets this summer.
A month ago, council enthusiastically embraced suggestions from a few local OHV enthusiasts to change the way the city regulates OHVs (a broad term encompassing everything from all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes to roomy side-by-sides to Razors to Utility Task Vehicles), and tasked staff with drafting an ordinance that, if adopted, would have amended the city’s traffic regulations for a one-year trial period.
Councilor John Ferguson, an outspoken opponent of ATVs operating in town, was absent from last month’s meeting. But upon his return to council chambers this month, he took the matter by the horns and wrestled it to the ground.
“It’s a safety and welfare issue – I can’t see any reason why we need ATVs on our public streets,” Ferguson said. “Ouray would become a playground for tourists, and things could get out of control pretty easily. ATVs are not designed for public municipal streets – that’s not why they are built and sold. There are a myriad of reasons why this is a bad idea.”
Ferguson added that he was upset city staff had recommended that council adopt the ordinance. “It sets a bad precedent,” he said.
Councilor Bette Maurer, who advocated allowing ATVs on city streets, said most community members she has heard from on the issue are locals “who are excited at the prospect of being allowed to drive their own ATVs around town.
“It will cut down on dust, and it will be more economical for them to run uptown on it,” she said. “I don’t foresee the vision of everyone driving around like crazy.”
Councilor Glenn Boyd, who had favored the idea of allowing ATVs in town, appeared to have had a change of heart since last month’s council discussion. If Ouray city streets offered direct access to county roads leading to the backcountry, he said, he would be “all for it…to help promote tourism.” But, he argued, “that is not what this will accomplish. Being able to drive inside town without being able to go anywhere will not promote tourism.”
“It’s not about promoting, it’s about not pushing them away,” Councilor Richard Kersen countered. “To me it is about the impact on our roads.”… If I was to hop in my van and drive up to Duckett’s, I am going to create more dust and impact than if I had a UTV.”
Ferguson pointed out that Kersen couldn’t legally go to Duckett’s Grocery in a UTV even if Ouray changed its regulations, since the market is on Main Street/U.S. Hwy 550, and thus part of a federal highway system, on which it is against the law to drive an unlicensed vehicle.
Mayor Pam Larson, too, reversed her previous support, declaring:: “I agree with John. I see it as opening up another whole world, and I don’t think at this point we should do it.”
Ferguson made a motion not to adopt Ordinance 4. Boyd seconded. The motion passed 3-2.
NEW RV REGS AMENDED, ADOPTED
After a public hearing and lengthy discussion, council unanimously voted to amend and adopt on second reading new RV parking regulations under development by the Ouray Planning Commission for the past several months.
The new regulations relax the prior rules and allow RV owners to park their unoccupied RV beside or behind their house, and, if it is less than 20 feet long, in front of the house on the city right-of-way indefinitely.
As amended, the new regulations do not apply to truck campers.
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