Floyd County looks at ATV access issues

By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

Should all-terrain vehicles be allowed to travel on Floyd County roads?

That’s a question that the members of the county Board of Supervisors have been asked to answer.

Chuck Meyer, a rural resident of Floyd County, asked the board Monday morning to consider passing an ordinance or a resolution that would allow ATVs or other off-road utility vehicles on county gravel roads.

Meyer said the Iowa code is ambiguous regarding ATV use, although as long as someone is using the vehicle for agricultural purposes during daylight hours its appears to be OK.

“I’d like to see something broader, for recreational use,” he said, and also referred to ATV parks and trails in other area of Iowa and in other states that might be models for something similar in Floyd County.

Meyer and board members discussed rules passed by other Iowa counties, ranging from a brief Mitchell County resolution that allows seemingly unlimited access to registered ATVs on all county roads except for Class C limited access roads, to a lengthy Cerro Gordo County ordinance that sets up precise rules for where, when and how ATVs can be operated and requirements for vehicle lighting, liability insurance and more.

“I thought Cerro Gordo County, I’d like to see, as a model for Floyd County if we were ever to adopt anything,” Meyer said.

“My main goal here is to establish some dialog on this issue,” he said. “I think there are ways of broadening usage on county property for ATV use in a recreational setting, but do it responsibly.

“Even though we’re broadening the Iowa code to allow for recreational use, I think there’s really a way we can do this responsibly so it’s not a free-for-all,” Meyer said.

Supervisor Linda Tjaden said she was eager to hear what other members of the public think about the idea.

“What’s the downfall that people would not be happy with?” Tjaden asked. “For example licensing all of their vehicles. … We’re going to hear that if we pass something that it could be requiring people to license their vehicles that they hadn’t licensed already. So there’s a maybe potential downfall.”

Supervisor Doug Kamm said that whatever rules the county would pass there would still be the state agricultural use exemption.

Meyer said, “Certainly we need to walk before we run, but possibly there’s an economic opportunity here down the road. Who’s to say Floyd County couldn’t have an ATV park. Certainly there’s economic upsides to this, I think, possibly long term.”

Kamm said, “We need to get three people to weigh in,” then listed County Engineer Dusten Rolando, who is in charge of county road maintenance; Conservation Director Adam Sears; and Sheriff Jeff Crooks.

The supervisors agreed to talk to those people, see if they get any input from the public, and put the issue on a future agenda to continue the discussion.

Also at the workshop meeting Monday morning, the supervisors discussed a possible agreement with Casey’s Inc. to use the former Casey’s property on Gilbert Street for county parking during the construction of the new law enforcement center, especially for construction worker vehicles.

Kamm said he had been in contact with Casey’s through Stewart Realty and the company was OK with letting the county use the property if the county cut the grass and removed snow when necessary.

Supervisors Tjaden and Roy Schwickerath recommended an agreement with Casey’s be signed effective May 1, hopefully after snow was done for this season and before construction would begin.

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