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UTV Decision May Be In St. Mary’s Voters’ Hands In April

The St. Mary Board of Aldermen will ask the city’s residents for their opinion on allowing utility vehicles (UTVs) and golf carts on city streets.

The aldermen discussed the issue during a public forum portion of last Thursday’s meeting and set another meeting for the evening of January 13 to get the referendum on the ballot for the April 7 Municipal Election.

That was one of many developments during an eventful meeting last week, which also saw:

  • the board vote to accept an offer from the St. Mary Chamber of Commerce to pay for a city treasurer;
  • city worker Frankie Ullman announce that he was leaving his position after more than 15 years to accept a new job;
  • Ullman and city manager David Woods report they were working with the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission (SEMO RPC) toward a gravity-fed sewer system for the city.

Alderman Carl Otte, who was appointed to the board in 2019 after Cody Myers resigned, raised the issue of UTV use on city streets.

It had been discussed each of the last three years. The board in October of 2017 voted 3-1 against allowing UTVs and golf carts on city streets. In October of 2018, the board voted 4-0 against a bill to allow UTVs. In December of that year, a proposal to put the item on the ballot died for lack of action.

In March of 2019, the board attempted to clarify its position by voting 3-0 — with current Ward 1 Alderman Brian Helms and former alderwomen Jennifer Weiss and Rose Rosenzweig casting the votes — to prohibit UTVs and golf carts in the city.

The city has since eliminated its police department, leaving the ordinance largely unenforced.

“It’s probably a sore subject but I’m going to bring it up anyways,” Otte said of UTV use. “We don’t have anybody to enforce the ordinance. I know we have ordinances against them down here but nobody abides by them anyways. I think it if we allowed them on our city streets and you had to buy city stickers to put them on our streets … it wouldn’t be a ton of money, but it would be something.”

He said the cities of Perryville and Ste. Genevieve allow UTVs on the streets and require city stickers for those who drive them.

“If they’re going to ride them on the streets, make them pay money to ride them on the streets,” Otte said. “I think we should change the ordinance that was already passed and put in the rules and regulations just like the city of Ste. Genevieve runs in theirs.

Helms said he thought the citizens of St. Mary should have input in any decision. He suggested tabling the matter until the aldermen had heard from the residents.

“I think the people I’ve talked to about the side-by-sides [UTVs] are against it,” Helms said. “A year ago when we started talking about this, my phone rang and people said they weren’t interested. Representing my ward, at this point, I think people would be against it. I’m not saying I would be against it necessarily but I represent them, not me.”

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