Bristol considering ATV/golf cart use on village roads

The Bristol Village Board agreed to take a look at an ordinance that would allow ATV/UTV/golf cart use on village streets.

The board discussed the issue at Monday’s regular meeting. The issue was placed on the agenda after the village received a petition with about 50 signatures supporting the change.

Currently, ATVs and golf carts are illegal to operate on village roads. The village does not have jurisdiction over county, state and US highways, where ATV and golf cart use also is prohibited.

Village staff and public safety representatives at the meeting were not in favor of the change.

Fire Chief John Niederer said he has seen first hand serious crashes involving ATVs.

“We do not recommend the use of ATVs on the roadways,” Niederer said “In the interest of public safety we don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Village administrator Randy Kerkman said he felt allowing ATV/golf cart use on village streets would require a challenging education effort to inform residents where ATV use was appropriate and increase the workload of the village-assigned sheriff’s deputy.

“We have a hard enough time for our deputy to enforce the laws for regular vehicles,” Kerkman said. “I just think it’s going to be more of a headache. I don’t support it at this time, unless the board approves it.”

Sheriff’s Department Capt. Robert Hallisy, said he echoed Niederer’s concerns. Then when an audience member pointed out that ATV use on local roads is common in northern Wisconsin, Hallisy said “We are worlds apart from up north … I am a public safety person and I think if we go beyond neighborhoods, the chief and I will be picking up dead bodies.”

Hallisy, whose department also patrols Paddock Lake, pointed out Paddock Lake does allow golf carts on most village roads north of Highway 50. The Sheriff’s Department supervises the permitting and inspection process there.

But Paddock Lake also has declined to expand to allow ATV use, Hallisy pointed out.

Wheatland has some designated areas where ATV use is allowed on town roads.

Village President Mike Farrell and Trustee Carolyn Owens said they were opposed to ATV/golf cart use on village roads.

“I just think there’s just too much advice against it,” Owens said after Niederer, Kerkman and Hallisy spoke. “It’s just too scary to think about it. There’s always going to be someone to abuse it. It’s a hard thing.”

But other trustees seemed more favorable toward allowing some kind of ATV/golf cart use.

“I think it’s really complicated because there are people who use it and really enjoy it,” said Trustee Chris Leker. “I am not sure they should be punished for the potential action of others.”

Trustee Kris Kordecki was critical of the county’s prohibition of ATVs/golf carts on county highways.

“The county’s going to let you ride your bike on county roads but not ATVs?” Kordecki said, apparently referring to an ongoing agenda item about an agreement with the county on bicycle use on county highways.

Trustee John McCabe pointed out most of the people on the petition live in the Lake George neighborhood. He suggested drafting an ordinance that would limit ATV/golf cart use to certain appropriate neighborhoods or areas.

McCabe also suggested tabling the proposal until there was a specific ordinance the board could review. Two audience members that spoke in favor of ATV use were asked to help develop that ordinance.

At the end of the discussion, Farrell said he might be able to support an ordinance limiting ATV use to certain neighborhoods.

“I’m not saying I am in favor of this yet,” Farrell said.

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