OHV Compromise Group Gives Report to Trustees, Mayor During Workshop

As a result of the public concern over Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use within the Town of Lake City over the summer months of 2018, Town Board of Trustees and Mayor Bruce Vierheller created an ‘OHV Compromise Group’ incorporating a group of community members, with Town Trustees Marty Priest and Richard Moore.
Before the January 2 regular meeting, a workshop was held during which Moore and Priest presented the group’s findings and communications. Present at the meeting were Mayor Bruce Vierheller, Town Manager Caroline Mitchell, Town Clerk Jamie Turrentine, and Trustees Richard Moore, Jeff Heaton, Dave Roberts, Marty Priest and Jud Hollingsworth. Trustee Alan Rae was absent.
In her report, Priest stated that the Compromise Group has come up with four different options to address the OHV quandry: special multi-day events, completion of the Alpine Loop, a combination of options one and two, and a limited town route.
“The more and more I talk to people,” Priest said, “the route is the popular option.” The route the group is considering would run, she said, “from Second Street down Silver to Fourth, but not to Bluff Street, crossing the Highway and extending all the way down Henson. [option #4 would allow the route to continue down Henson to 7th to Bluff, Bluff from 7th to 8th and 8th & Bluff to 8th & Gunnison]. We didn’t want to include all of Highway 149 because technically it is not allowed, as we are a statutory town.”
Priest went on to say that she, personally, “would rather it [the route] be very limited, and then maybe a possibility for people to apply for some kind of permit that allows them straight access, like what Silverton does, rather than opening up all town roads.” She explained that in her opinion, the town should provide kiosks, possibly on Country Roads 20 and 30, where OHV riders could access information about OHVs and where they are and are not allowed to drive their vehicles.
In response to a question when the next compromise group meeting will be held, Moore replied that no date had yet been decided, as the group wants to present its information to the Town first, “so you can see the direction we have been going and get your input to take to the next meeting.”
Trustee Jeff Heaton said, “I’m concerned about signage. If there’s going to be a route, we are going to have to put out a lot of signage. I don’t know how good that’s going to look. Maybe we could put in temporary signs that can be pulled out and used year after year?”
“Or they will have to find the kiosk to get the route map,” said Vierheller. “That would minimize signage.”
“The majority of the issues that I see are dealing with parking, enforcement and noise,” Priest said. “I’ve done a lot of research, and the biggest problem that I’ve heard is that there is no definite route or area where OHVs are allowed, so you have people riding every road and every alley in Lake City. I say let’s not make it town-wide, because there is no enforcement right now. We need to give our enforcement officers something to work with, a definite route.”
Priest went on to explain that much of her research was done on the town of Silverton, where OHVs became legal, within a route, in 2014. With little enforcement and compliance, by 2017 some restrictions needed to be put into place. “People were not happy because there were OHVs willy-nilly all through town,” she said. “So they started enforcing the route, giving direct access via permit to townspeople.”
Priest suggested that the Town of Lake City ordinance should be route only, with no other in-town roads being accessible, merely direct access to Engineer Pass. “We need a route, enforcement and containment, and at some point the option for a direct access permit,” she said. “Dealing with all the other issues is secondary. We need to focus on what we can do and not on what we may or may not be able to do in the future.”
Priest also said she had reviewed the 2015 parking ordinance that was drafted but never passed, declaring, “A lot of things in there were super good, the primary ones being no overnight parking of big trailers. I think we need to look at that ordinance and bring everything back together again.”
Vierheller suggested that the ordinance be put on the next workshop for review.
Moore said, “We are making progress, but it’s slow because we want to do the best we can to meet all of the issues. I personally like the option of limited access with a designated route, so if there are events, we already have the route in place. That’s what everyone follows, and that keeps it simple. It cuts down the traffic in neighborhoods, and designates it back toward the central business district, the restaurants and shops. That’s where I am, and I feel the rest of the group is there as well. As we put this all together, I feel what we need to do is design route options and designate whatever route the community decides is best, and then work around that, with community input.”
“We have gotten a lot of community input,” Priest said. “Also I know that the County is making this a top priority because of the question of County Road 142 [the old coulty road on Crooke’s Hill past Ox-Yoke Cabins, Texan Resort and Crooke Falls Hydro facility is being considered as part of the designated route]. What our group wants is input on what we can do, what we are able to do and what we should do.”
Vierheller asked if another joint meeting between town and county should be arranged, and Trustee Jud Hollingsworth stating he feels it will be better to “see a separation from town and county. A lot of the things I’ve heard were not relevant to the town, and I feel at these public meetings it gets all mixed up.”
Priest agreed, stating, “That’s what I said; let the town deal with their side of it and same for the county. We can’t get bogged down by something we have nothing to do with. I’m more concerned that we hold the workshop on parking at the meeting January 16.”
Vierheller agreed, saying that trustees should take all of the information into consideration and be ready to discuss it further at the next town workshop and regular meeting scheduled Wednesday, January 16, in the Armory multi-purpose room.