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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Discusses ATV/UTV Routes Near School and Park

Issue Date: January 2, 2020

The City of Peshtigo Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, Dec. 11 for the second time since forming the committee in April of 2018, to discuss several pending issues.

The main item at the meeting consisted of proposing an ordinance for ATV use in the City. Committee member, Bridgett Schmidt commented, "We should probably talk to the schools and let them know about a possible proposed ordinance to allow these units in the city. Some ordinances have certain times that ATVs/ UTVs can't be riden near the schools and they need to be made aware. Jillian Schutte, Committee Chairperson responded, "Me personally, I would like to open all roads. ATV/UTV drivers would have to follow the same rules as vehicles. Cars would do more damage than an ATV/UTV unit. I don't see the reason why to limit school districts and road use for a couple of hours for the units. I don't see any issues with opening all roads to the them".

Schmidt responded, "I like the City of Oconto limitations. I don't think that area of town by the schools can handle anymore traffic with all the congestion there already, that's my opinion". Mayor Cathi Malke said, "I agree with Bridgett". Malke then addressed Schutte, "Have you ever been to the school at those times? Certain times of the day are compounding safety issues that we are trying to eliminate. If you add this to the mix of the existing congestion, it will be a war zone. Also we just applied for a grant and we don't want anything to interfere with receiving the grant". Police Chief, Rick Badgely agreed with Malke and Schmidt stating "I think there should be limited use around the schools".

Malke then said, "I totally support allowing ATV/UTV use all around the City to get to businesses and gas stations but we truly need to limit the use around schools". Badgley then stated, "The ATV/UTV clubs are good, they monitor themselves and those that are disobeying the laws". Schmidt then asked, "Are we going to allow their ATV/ UTV at school"? It was pointed out that age for driving a side by side is 16 and a four wheeler at age 12. Schutte then said, "I think we should limit it to 16 across the board, young adults are more prepared at 16 versus a 12 year old".

Ron Rausch from the Oconto ATV/UTV Club was present at the meeting and announced "I am here to help with anything I can. We try to keep the ordinances the same in each town. I would caution you in doing things too far away from whatever everyone else is doing, otherwise it gets too difficult for riders to keep it all straight".

Malke asked Schutte if she asked the Town of Peshtigo and Oconto to attend the meeting and did you check with the Police Chief?" Schutte responded, "No I did not".

Schmidt then asked Rausch, "Do you limit school times?" Rauch replied, "Yes, we have been with limitations of when school starts and at release time. We wanted to do it that way and have no problems with the way we are doing that".

Schmidt asked if lights and signals are required on the units. Joey Costello of Cozzy's Polaris responded, "Signals are not required by the State of Wisconsin. The cost is about $300 to $500 to install signals on the units. Students learn fast on how to use hand signals". She also stated, "If open to the City, we have Badger Park to think about as well. I think we should keep it small, we wouldn't want them driving on city owned property. I would suggest to keep it to the roads".

Public Works Director, George Cowell responded, "After you leave West park Drive it is not part of the City Street System anymore". Mayor interjected, "I would make Badger Park off limits, we have to think of the safety of our children". A member of the audience added, "I am a big camper and we look for campgrounds that allow ATVs / UTVs. Cowell then said, "It is just a suggestion, but regulations with parks can be put in ordinance regulations at the next Parks and Rec meeting and doesn't have to be in an ordinance".

Other club members also made comments including, keeping the speed limit the same at 35 MPH to keep consistent with other towns, in other words, 'keep it simple, stupid' for ease of the riders.

After all the communications, a motion was made to send an example of each of the ordinances of Town of Grover, Town of Peshtigo and the City of Oconto to Attorney Dave Spangenberg to draft an ordinance as per discussed, with most emphasis based from Oconto's ordinance and to also include limited route access around schools".

Comments continued, including from Pat Ferdon stating to open all roads and if there is a problem, deal with it as a one on one situation. Another member of the audience commented all lettered or numbered roads are County Roads and are illegal. We are working on sections of those roads to get from Point A to Point B.

Costello commented, "Cozzy's has already raised money for signs for the City and we would be glad to help with anything else you need". He also said, "Polaris is checking for someone to teach the safety rules and regulations as well". Malke responded, "We can find a location for you to host the classes".

Costello added, "If the City gets low on funds, there are so many people out there that are willing to help. This community of riders will help you out and volunteer their time for anything you need help with".

Once again, the conversation led back to restricted school hours with Schuett stating, "I understand safety is number one, but whether you are driving a Ranger or a truck, it is not much different". She was met with opposition from Malke, stating, "I can't imagine adding anything else to West Park Drive, It is a war zone and not going well there now. I would not add anything else to the congestion that is already there".

Schmidt added, "The noise level is already an issue with trucks and this would just add to it, we don't need anything new over there until we get a new road there". Costello replied, "Most toys are quieter than trucks. If you limit the noise on ATVs, you need to limit it on trucks as well". A resident, Brian Eggner, added, "It is a fad in the beginning but it will taper down to people just going to the grocery store or convenience store and once the fad wears off it will be just those needing to get from Point A to Point B".

Malke said, "To comply with school requests, I think we should not allow the units by the schools at specified drop off and pick-up times, for now, until we get through the road/ pick up situation". Schmidt then added, "I have no problem with them going throughout the City, I just don't think we should add anymore. If things go well and we see no reason to have it different around school, then we can change it. It's an ordinance, it can be changed".

Badgely commented, "With my learning experiences, I have no objection allowing ATVs/ RTVs in the City, for the most part it is all common sense. They abide by the rules, the Clubs are fantastic and if there are any problems or issues, they take care of right away. I see no problem with certain hours and keeping the same hours that other clubs do with school restrictions."

Malke ended with, "I think it is wonderful to invite ATVs/ UTVs into our City". Again, Schuette indicated she was saddened to see the streets by the schools are not going be opened all the time".

Cowell then gave an update on the recycling carts status. He said, "Carts and stickers are here, flyers are being completed and recycling calendars will be made. In general we notified the public of what items can be collected and there are more items that can be collected versus what we could pick up in the past. We may want to post a list at City Hall of all items that can be recycled".

There will be directions on the cart that matches the ordinance that tells residents how often recyclables will be picked up; the carts can't be in the streets; they have to be behind the curb and the time changed to have carts out is now 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. Carts stay with the property, so if someone moves they cannot take their cart with them. For businesses or entities that need more than one cart, the city will provide up to four units and anything over four have the landlord or business would have to contract with a provider.

Cowell added,"This will be new for people, the nice thing is they have lids so there is no worries about the elements blowing things around. The carts can be put in the driveway, the out-walk or before the sidewalk. Directions will be on the containers advising how to place the containers. Instead of doing half of the city every two weeks, we will be doing the whole city every two weeks probably on Mondays, starting January 13.

There may need to be some changes to work on the ordinance to update who fixes the carts if needed?; State that the carts are property of the city; The language of major damage to carts done by the resident is the responsibility of the resident for repair or replacement and if a house is sold and the resident takes the cart we need to put something in the ordinance of how we will take care of that.

Schmidt commented, "Everything we did to get to this point, we want everything clear and laid out". Cowell replied, "The bins will be numbered and recorded as to which house has what number". Schmidt added, "The property owner is responsible for keeping the cart in good condition, the city can do repair on normal wear and tear or defects, but damage to the carts will not be covered". Cowell responded, "The carts are city property so new axles, wheels and a new lid the city is responsible for, but other damage is the responsibility of the resident".

Malke asked, "What about rental properties? In that case, is the landlord responsible for replacing a damaged cart? We will need to add to ordinance the landowner/ landlord replaces over and beyond repairs that exceeds wheels, axles and lid". Cowell stated he will write up a paragraph in the ordinance concerning what was discussed of up to four carts per rental or business units and anything after four carts, the landowner or landlord has to use an outside source; landowner replaces the cart for over and beyond normal repairs that exceeds wheels, axles and lids as well as they are responsible for replacement cost if the cart is taken off the property when someone moves or relocates".

Malke's other concern with going to a one arm recycling truck option is possibly causing hardship for some of the elderly and handicap members of the community. She said, "We have handicap and elderly citizens that want to be independent and I don't want to put them in a position where they get hurt. We haven't moved forward with the new one arm garbage truck yet, lets say we had 20 residents that cannot get to the road with the carts, do we have city employees that can aid residents with getting their carts to the road? Maybe they would need to show a proof of handicap or need and the city could have a list of those that would need that type of service"? Cowell responded with, "Keep in mind every time you provide additional services, you add additional dollars. We do have a limited amount of about 60 smaller containers and if residents provide verification that they need a smaller container, we can provide them with a smaller one".

Cowell then said, "Let the program go forward and then get feedback after it is enforced for a little while". Malke responded, "I disagree, If it snows they have to shovel out a spot to put the cart". We are creating a hardship for some residents".

Cowell responded, "I can see more issues with the garbage pickup versus recycling with only having a small amount of garbage for the container. Again, let the program go forward and see what transpires, then discuss after that. Everything has to go into containers, we can't have stacks of cardboard not in the containers. Yes, there is a change but people need to adjust". A motion was then made to update the existing ordinance and add as needed as per discussed in the meeting.

With several complaints about rentals not being kept up and maintained as they should be, it brought another ordinance to the table to discuss in regards to housing and rental

Schmidt then asked, "How long does a landlord need to comply and how long does it take to schedule an inspection"? Cowell responded, "It depends on the condition of the unit but normally a 60 to 90 day notice would be reasonable and 30 days to set up an inspection appointment. This is a big undertaking for a community but there are some advantages".

Malke said, "It is unfair to neighbors to look at unkept homes or rentals. I think rentals need to be stricter. State statues do not allow for anyone to go in to inspect a house unless a form is filled out. There are so many violations in rentals. There have been times when a tenant makes a complaint and the landlord kicks them out".

Schuett replied, "The first place to start is to review the complaint and do an inspection allowing the landlord to get in the rental to inspect". Schmidt then said, "It is not favorable to call on the landlord and it doesn't guarantee it will be fixed either".

Malke said, "We need to focus on rental properties if we are going to go forward with permanent rental properties. Start small and have someone do these inspections and see if we have to move from the the mandatory four year inspection down to two year inspection instead".

Schuett then recommended both private and public residents both need to maintain their homes and rental properties. We need to add rental properties onto the housing ordinances an also include in the minimum housing codes.

Malke responded, "Now is the time to add anything since we are revising all these ordinances. I am leaning towards the option of having a building inspector but we are not going to get anywhere with this until we look at everything and review it".

Schuett responded, "We can't do anything at this time without a time-line for the process and we don't have any complaint forms at this time either. We need to have another meeting with Police Chief Richard Badgley and Building Inspector, Tom Smith and not just about rental, but also residential properties".

Malke ended with, "Residents should be able to come to the city and advise of any issues they may be encountering without any repercussions. I understand you want a paper trail, but you have been elected by the people to represent them. They shouldn't need to fill out a complaint form. I had a family come to see me with concerns and they were evicted. Rentals should be inspected for the safety of families. Malke then thanked Rauch for attending as he was a wealth of knowledge as well as thanking the rest of the ATV club members that were present.


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