UTV Ordinance Revision At August 13 Meeting

By MARK EVANS

STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD

St. Mary city manager David Woods will draft a bill amending the city ordinance that regulates utility terrain vehicles [UTVs] on city streets for the Board of Aldermen to vote on at their August 13 meeting.

Discussion of how to word the proposed ordinance took up a considerable part of a special meeting held last Thursday.

Woods had found UTV ordinances from other cities in the region and had provided them to the aldermen.

When the board began the discussion, Mayor Carl Wyatt stressed that he was not against the use of UTVs or golf carts in the city.

“If anybody’s thinking I’m trying to do away with it, I’m not,” he said, adding that “just a few things” need to be clarified in the ordinance.

The first question addressed was whether 16-year-olds would be allowed to operate UTVs in the city.

“I think it’s awfully young to be out there,” Wyatt said, but added that he would go along with  whatever the board thought.

Alderwoman Jennifer Schwartz suggested that a drivers license should be required.

Wyatt  said he just wanted to see how the board felt.

“There’s 16-year-old kids that are great and there are 20-year-old kids that re worse than the 16-year-olds,” he said.

Whether a helmet should be required was also brought up.

“I don’t see it happening,” Wyatt said, “young kids wearing helmets. They should be. It should be enforced.”

Without a police department or a city prosecutor at the moment, it would be impossible to enforce.

Flag requirements were also discussed. It was agreed that they should be two feet above the roof of the vehicle and should meet Missouri Department of Conservation requirements for size and shape.

Some debate also sprang up on what hours the vehicles should be allowed on city streets.

Wyatt said he disagreed with No. 6 of Section 2 of the June 2018 ordinance regulating the vehicles. It reads , “Golf carts/utility vehicles shall be operated upon the streets and alleys only between sunrise and sunset, unless equipped with such lights and turn indicators.”

“I don’t agree with them having ability to drive through town before sunrise or after dark,” he said. “We don’t have a police department; we can’t handle them. That’s a different crowd. I think it should be changed.”

Wyatt doesn’t like the idea of the vehicles being on streets after dark, even with lights.

“After dark, you need to take it home and get your car,” he said. “That’s how I feel. It’s so much different than the vehicles out there in the daytime. You can see what different things; you know what it is; you know if it’s a side-by-side.”

At night, he felt, it would be harder to distinguish what it was – especially considering the slower speed of many of the vehicles.

“They don’t all go 70 or 80 miles per hour,” he said.

Alderman Dr. Zenon Duda suggested that headlights be required to be on during daylight hours, as well.

“They should have daytime running lights, so  you can see them better,” he said, “just like a motorcycle.”

He said he saw someone with children in the back of a UTV without helmets on. Wyatt repeated that without police, the ordinances cannot be enforced.

“You’ve got to put it [a helmet requirement] in to protect the city,” he said.

It was finally agreed that the ordinance should  ban the use of the vehicles within 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset.

Insurance, meanwhile, could be an even stickier issue. To be protected, a UTV driver’s insurance must say that the  driver is insured in the vehicle on public roads.

“I don’t think you can get an insurance company to say that,” Wyatt said, “because they’re not legal on public roads.”

“You can get insurance from the  Conservation Department on private property and everything,” he added, “but they are illegal according to state law and the only one that’s not is farmers, going from field to field to field.”

He stressed that   he wasn’t making this up. “It’s the law,” he said.

Woods  he had emailed the city’s insurance company about the issue earlier.

“It says if the city is going to allow it, they must require proof of insurance that clearly prove – they underlined that – indicates the  coverage extends to use on public roads,” he said.

It was agreed that permit applicants must sign a waiver, releasing the city from any liability.

The discussion also moved on to possible fines and revocation of the permit.

Woods will take all the feedback and report back with a proposed alteration to the ordinance at the next meeting.

COUNTY’S  HELP

TO BE PRIORITIZED

The board also discussed the possibility of the county road and bridge crew helping out on some street and ditch issues in town.

An ongoing debate has taken place, dating back to 2014, on the issue.