PLUM LAKE - Some ATV riders want to be able to drive as many places as possible.
Often that means on roads, too.
But some communities may not want that freedom.
One Northwoods town is trying to determine what's best for its community—whether they welcome or disapprove of ATVs on town roads.
The town of Plum Lake in Vilas County is sending out a questionnaire for its residents and seasonal property owners to gauge attitudes towards ATVs. Residents will have a few weeks to respond once the forms are mailed this week.
"I emphasized to them we are not promoting ATVs nor lobbying against them," said Plum Lake Chair Will Maines. "We just want to find out what the town thinks."
Along with Plum Lake, there are other local towns that do not currently allow ATVs on their roads but are getting pressured to open them.
"I know there are some business people that would like to see them," Maines said. "They believe it will bring in more money to the town and perhaps it will. And there are other people on the other side of it that are adamant about the environmental issues, the noise, the pollution, that sort of thing."
However, town boards do not necessarily have to listen to what its residents want, nor do they need a referendum to establish ATV routes. But that does not mean board don't heavily consider resident opinion.
For instance, Plum Lake is not bound to abide by the survey submissions.
"Either way that data comes in from the people who are filling out the questionnaire, if it's for ATVs, by ordinance we could establish routes," Maines said. "And if they do not want ATVs, by ordinance we could prevent opening up anything for routes."
Other county towns, such as Eagle River, have opened up all town roads to ATVs. Leaders say the transition has been smooth.
"Since then we haven't had any major problems," said Eagle River Mayor Jeffrey Hyslop. "It's not really that much different than anything else on the road. People follow the rules of the road it's fine, and if you don't, it doesn't matter what vehicle you're in, it's a problem. And what we've found is the ATV people are good."
Plum Lake is not the only Vilas County town considering ATVs. Check back for more updates on this developing story.
|Story By: Stephanie Haines