After months of back-and-forth discussion, Peosta City Council members last week took another step toward allowing all-terrain and utility vehicles to begin cruising city roads.
Council members voted, 3-1, to approve the first reading of such an ordinance.
Kathy Orr cast the lone dissenting vote, saying her concerns with the city’s traffic have not changed.
“The traffic flow in this town is horrible,” Orr said. “Burds Roads is all screwed up by the community center, and before they start throwing more (vehicles) on the road, they should address the problems we already have.”
Council member Karen Lyons attended the beginning of the meeting virtually, but she then left it due to technical difficulties that prevented her from hearing the conversation. She did not vote on the matter.
The new ordinance would allow riders to access city roads, but hours are restricted from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Riders must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. ATVs and UTVs are required to renew registration annually through Dubuque County.
The 6 p.m. start on weekdays aims to limit conflicts with rush-hour traffic. The ordinance also would expire one year from the date it is published unless the City Council renews it.
Council member Doug Hughes argued the ordinance’s late start time would not allow ATV or UTV enthusiasts much time to ride during the winter months, but ultimately, the council went with the 6 p.m. start time.
“I think that, after a period of time, we can evaluate this and think maybe 5:30 p.m. is an opportunity,” said Council Member John Kraft. “I think it is easier to start here and give more freedoms later.”
A recent city survey showed, of the 384 respondents, 57% of people are in favor of allowing ATVs, UTVs and golf carts on Peosta roads, 32% were not and 11% were unsure.
Police Chief Mike Comer said he is wary of allowing golf carts as well as ATVs on city streets because it will be difficult to monitor the age of the golf cart drivers and whether those vehicles are being used appropriately.
“It would be very difficult to know if they are joyriding,” he said. “I think it would be very hard to dictate that.”
Comer said that when he looked at the survey, he was surprised to see the very people who hope to one day see golf carts permitted also worry about their misuse.
“They had the same concerns I do, but they are in favor of them,” he said.
City Administrator Whitney Baethke urged the council to also review the golf cart ordinance and tackle both topics at the same time.
“It is a different need, but I do not see it as a lesser value in this conversation,” she said. “I think the population of Peosta could lean towards some good golf cart traffic. It also presents a little less of a risk because the speeds aren’t as high.”
City officials decided to keep the golf cart discussion separate from the ATV and UTVs and will re-evaluate the ordinance as it moves forward with its parks and trails plans.
“If it is that big of a need for us, we have the comprehensive plan coming in the coming months, so it will be something we can figure out and put that into the comprehensive plan,” said Mayor Jim Merten.