During their meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission decided to allow city manager Dave Martin and others to begin drafting an ordinance allowing utility task vehicles to be driven on city streets.
In recent weeks, the issue of allowing the off-road UTVs on streets had come to the commissioners’ attention, with residents speaking both in favor of such an allowance as well as in opposition to it.
“We can’t make everybody happy, although we try,” Martin said.
Martin said he had discussed the decision with residents and the majority spoke in favor of such an ordinance, while those opposed to it referenced concerns such as their speed capabilities, ranging from 25 to 75 miles per hour, and the fact manufacturers built them as off-road vehicles.
A number of residents addressed the commission during Tuesday’s meeting and said they believe UTVs, including vehicles such as Kawasaki Mules and other models, are safer than motorcycles and golf carts as well as some cars.
Police Chief Travis Shelton gave a report, saying he had contacted other cities that allow UTVs on the streets, including Chanute, Parsons and Pittsburg. In speaking with representatives from those police departments, Shelton said they reported little trouble when it came to accidents, chases, ticketing and reckless driving involving UTVs.
“I don’t think you’ll have a problem with them” UTV owner Eric Shoemaker said, also emphasizing that he believes the UTV tires are also safe for the streets. “These are a lot safer than a golf cart.”
Martin said he had heard the UTV tires are strictly for off-road use and would not have proper traction on streets, but others in attendance at the meeting assured him otherwise, merely pointing out that the tires would likely wear out faster.
“I think there’s a lot of people in this county that it’s going to help,” said resident Tim Bradbury.
The commissioners approved writing an ordinance by January 1, with a 4-0 vote, with commissioner Jim Adams absent. That deadline will give Martin and others such as Shelton time to continue their research and determine what restrictions and regulations will be in place, such as being a licensed driver, 18 years or older and what safety features such as seat belts and turning signals will be required.
When the ordinance is complete, the commission will again address the issue and decide to approve it or not.