BY SCOTT RALL

The Globe outdoors columnist

I was reading the Globe the other day and saw that Worthington was in the process of enacting an ATV/UTV ordinance for the city.  

My first thought was great, one more rule we don’t need. I did not think there was an ATV problem in Worthington, but instead of running around with poor information I decided to call the Worthington Police Department to see what they had for information regarding this proposed new ordinance.

I learned a lot after a few minutes with Sgt. Brett Wiltrout. He stopped into the office and after he left, I had a whole new appreciation for what was going on and the rationales behind the effort. The reason that the city is enacting an ordinance is the fact that, if they don’t have a specific ordinance on the books, the state statute would be the default and all ATV/UTV use in the city would be illegal.

They knew this is not what they wanted, so they started crafting their own ordinance. They read up on what other cities do and started with that as a template.

The ordinance needs three or four readings before it becomes a law.  If there is a change in the proposal, they need to start over with the required public readings until they have the required number of readings without any changes.

What follows is some of what is proposed, but not by any means the final say on the matter.

The city council is taking public comments and will make any changes as they see fit. As it sits now, all ATV/UTV’s will need to be licensed in order to operate on city streets.  

The fees are projected to be $10-$50 per year. Regular four-wheelers (those that use handlebars to steer) will be allowed from November 1-March 31. Side-by-sides can operate all year long. Operators over 18 will need a driver’s license and 16- and 17-year olds will need a driver’s license and an ATV Safety Certificate. Users under 18 would be required to wear a helmet. All users would be required to carry insurance and have proof of such on them at all times.

What I read in the paper indicated that turn signals would also be required but that is not for certain.

So there were a few questions that I had and a few ideas about the proposed ordinance that I shared with Officer Wiltrout. He indicated he would happy to forward them on to the city council for consideration.  

The first was the cost.  I asked if the regulations were being designed to become a profit generator for the city. I think registering users is a fine idea, but it should not be cost prohibitive. Fifty dollars a year for a 10-year period would cost the rider $500.  I think that is too much.

A $10 per year fee seems reasonable. I also explained that an annual registration requirement is a hassle. You can buy a lifetime license for a trailer, so I thought one-year, three-year, five-year and lifetime licensing options would be a good idea.

In the state of Minnesota, boats and ATVs have milti-year registrations. I like the gals that work in the licensing center, but I don’t like standing in line assuming this is where you would be spending our money.

I also questioned the different periods that each different class of ATV could be used. They pointed to visibility safety for the extra restrictions for class 1 units. My response was about whether they were going to limit the times a motorcycle could be driven, citing the same visibility concerns. Both units should be legal all year around.

There was discussion as to what the potential fines for non-compliance would be, and those issues have not yet been addressed. It is a liquid and evolving ordinance as of now.

I wondered how an AG plate would be treated.  That is a plate attached to many off-road vehicles that allow farmers to come and go with far less restrictions than other users.

Would an Ag plate trump all of the other requirements?  I guess time will tell.

Now is the time to make your opinions known about the proposed ordinance.  Waiting and then complaining after the fact is a non-starter with me. You can call the Worthington Police Department at 507-295-5400 and share your comments or email Officer Wiltrout at bwiltrout@co.nobles.mn.us.  

Public comments will be passed on to the city council. Take the time and voice your opinions.  It will result in the best outcome. Remember that decisions are made by the ones who show up. A big thanks to Officer Wiltrout for his help in explaining all of this information to me.