County ATV/UTV ordinance becomes official

Dozens of county residents filled the Amber Community Club on Dec. 5 to hear about the county countywide ATV/UTV ordinance. Those present heard from Sheriff Greg Graver, Recorder Sheri Jones, and insurance agent Rick Meyer. Bobby Krum led the program. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It’s official. Jones County residents can now enjoy the freedom to ride their ATVs and UTVs on county roads.

     After the Jones County Supervisors passed the ordinance last month, it wasn’t official until the minutes of the last meeting were published in both county newspapers.

     On Dec. 5, the Amber Community Club was full of county residents interested in hearing about the new ordinance and what it entails. Sheriff Greg Graver, County Recorder Sheri Jones, and State Farm Insurance Agent Rick Meyer were all on hand to answer any questions.

     Bobby Krum of Amber, who took the initial steps to get the ordinance passed, led the discussion.

     The ordinance, knows as “the Jones County Off-Highway Vehicle Ordinance,” states that ATVs/UTVs can only operate on county/Secondary Roads. You can’t drive on the shoulder or in the ditch. State roadways and highways (1, 151, 64, 38, and 136) are off limits, as are state parks (Wapsipinicon State Park) and wildlife areas.

     Graver said, at this time, county parks and preserves such as Central Park, Mon Maq Dam, Pictured Rocks Park, and Hale Wildlife Refuge, are also off limits. Graver and Krum have been in contact with the Jones County Conservation Board regarding the passage of the ATV ordinance. It is up to the JCCB as to whether ATVs/UTVs can access those areas.

     “Any land under their jurisdiction are no-gos,” said Graver. “They are protected under state code. But, under our ordinance, we can allow operation in certain areas, but it has to be posted. No action has been taken yet.”

     Conservation Director Brad Mormann indicated the JCCB plans to address the topic in the near future.

     “If you know your JCCB representatives, you may want to reach out to them and voice your interest in what areas you would like to see open,” encouraged Graver.

     Drivers on ATVs/UTVs must have a valid DNR registration sticker on the vehicle, as well as valid insurance in the amount of $500,000. Graver said the amount was chosen because that’s what the City of Monticello currently has in their ordinances.

     “If the county was only requiring $250,000 and you drove into Monticello, you’d be in violation of their code and subject to a citation out of Monticello,” explained Graver of the insurance amount. “This keeps it uniform.”

     You are required to have a valid driver’s license. Those under 18 years of age will be required to DNR-approved ATV course.

     Operation is allowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

     While flags and orange triangles are not required on your ATV/UTV, Graver encourages the use of the warning devices.

     “I am going to strongly recommend that you put them on for visibility,” he said.

     Vehicles cannot travel more than 35 mph. Lighted headlights/taillights are required from sunset to sunrise. Seatbelts are required if the vehicle is equipped.

     You can register your vehicle in the County Recorder’s Office for $17.75. The cut-off date for 2018 is Dec. 31. To bring your registration up to date, the cost of $22.75. Jones said she can help those who used their ATVs/UTVs on their farm but never had them registered before. Her office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

     Of the cost to register your ATV, $1.25 stays in Jones County.

     The county ordinance is available to read and/or download on the sheriff’s website: Click on the link that says “ATV/UTV ordinance effective Dec. 6, 2018.” The ordinance is also available on the “Jones County, IA ATV/UTV Alliance” Facebook page.

     “There is a grace period,” warned Graver.

     He said all of his deputies have copies of the ordinance for enforcement purposes, as do some state deputies. While the county deputies might be somewhat lenient, Graver said the state officials will not.

     Graver said things within the ordinance will have zero tolerance. “Everybody is expected to comply,” he said. “I know there’s going to be a learning curve; there’s going to be some mis-education.”

     Some towns within Jones County don’t have ATV ordinances; some have strict ordinances. Graver said it’s also important to know those ordinances before encroaching those municipalities.

     “Please get the word out and try to police yourself,” urged Graver. He said the last thing he wants to hear from the board of supervisors is “I told you so” concerning ending the ordinance.

     “This is a privilege, not a right,” added Graver. “It can certainly be taken away faster than it was implemented.”

     Krum said the more people who know about the new ordinance, the better to follow the rules. “We all need to work together to make sure se abide by all of the rules so we can continue to have this privilege going forward,” said Krum.

     There is a small committee of six members working to establish an ATV/UTV club. Krum said the idea to promote local tourism throughout the county. He said they’re discussing the idea of printing color-coded maps, as well as signage throughout the county.



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