Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Public safety committee talks city ATV, UTV usage

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Aug 10, 2017

Several community members showed up Aug. 2 at the Fairfield City Council’s Public Safey and Transportation Committee meeting to discuss the possibility of All-Terrain Vehicle or Utility Vehicle usage within city limits.

“They are wanting ATVs to be allowed on city streets,” said Fairfield Police Chief Dave Thomas Wednesday during an interview. “State law now [permits] cities and counties to decide whether or not they want to allow it, and since Jefferson County recently allowed it, people are now approaching the city about it.”

Thomas said that there weren’t any concerned voices during the meeting when it came to ATV or UTV usage, and that the idea would likely be accepted by the committee and likely passed on to city council for ultimate approval of an ordinance.

“It’s about responsibility,” Thomas said. “That’s exactly what I told the committee. If we allow ATVs and UTVs in the city, about 90 percent of people will follow the laws. We deal with around 5 to 10 percent of those who don’t, but we deal with those people anyway. Five percent of people run the stop sign, and it would be the same way for ATVs and UTVs.”

Public safety committee chairwoman Katy Anderson agreed.

“I see no reason why it wouldn’t move forward,” Anderson said. “The people who are asking for it, are asking for the right reasons. They have done their research, and they really did present very solid information — they knew what they were talking about.”

Thomas said that since the county approved its ordinance, that there had been very few occurrences of incidents with ATVs.

“There was one, but it wasn’t on the roadway. You’re going to have accidents with cars, tractors and motorcycles every day,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about children, but it would be the same thing that the county has where you would have to be 18, have a valid driver’s license and insurance and drive no faster than 35 miles per hour, unless a zone specifies a lower speed. It looks good that it would go to council with something similar to the county’s plan.”

In other news, the committee discussed the possibility of a juvenile curfew.

“We’re in the beginning stages of discussion on this,” Thomas said. “This didn’t actually come from the police department, it came from citizens, and some members of the committee.”

Thomas said the idea stemmed from the recent crimes committed by juveniles, and the committee requested that he research examples and experiences of other towns that use curfews.

“There are a lot of questions public safety has asked for me to get information. I plans to look at neighboring towns and different options, and I’m going to present to them how it would be used and its benefits and concerns,” Thomas said.

“I think it’s a step in the direction to curbing the malicious things that are happening in the middle of the night,” Anderson said. “But as a parent of a teenager who is working and who is active in sports, I think we have to be cognizant of that, too.”

Thomas said police would take things like late sports practice, tournaments and students working late, into consideration.

“We don’t write a ticket for every violation that we see, if they did that, they would be doing it all day long,” he said. “If a kid is walking home from work or a late baseball tournament or high-schoolers who are trying to get home from a game, we’ve not looking at that. It’s for those kids who are hanging out at 3-4 a.m. doing bad things. This would give us some authority to not only approach them, but call their parents ...”

Thomas said Anderson had given him a month to research the idea further.






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