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A public hearing on a proposal to extend operating hours for ATV/UTVs on Louisa County’s secondary roads drew several comments during the Louisa County Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting Tuesday.

Six local residents attended the public hearing, with most of their comments supporting the proposal to extend the current operating hours of sunrise to sunset to 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Paul Gustison of rural Wapello, however, said he did not endorse the longer hours, arguing ATV/UTV riders at night could startle the elderly and pose a safety issue.

“Joyrides are nice, but I don’t think these joyrides after it gets dark are any good. I think if we go to 10 p.m. there are people who won’t get any sleep,” he said, explaining rural residents would have to contend with the activity.

He also pointed out that during initial discussions a few years ago, before the board approved allowing ATV/UTV operations on secondary roads, he had proposed requiring lights be on the machines whenever they were operated on roadways.

Gustison said there had not been any opposition to his suggestion, but when the final rules were adopted by the supervisors, that provision had not been included.

He said it was time to revisit the issue.

“I don’t know if you are going to allow these extra hours, but I’m going to push (for the lights),” he said, arguing that would improve safety.

Supporters of the extended hours who also attended the public hearing indicated they were not opposed to that suggestion.

Sheila Keltner, a member of the Louisa County Riders Club who had met with the board in September to request the extended hours, said the vast majority of the club members already rode with their lights on.

“Ninety-nine percent of them have their lights on all the time,” she said, adding most come on automatically.

“If lights are the problem, I don’t think that is a problem,” she said, reminding the supervisors the riders were not just seeking the extension for their own benefit.

“We’re here for Louisa County,” she said, explaining the extended hours would help boost the local economy by providing longer hours for riders to drive to restaurants and other attractions.

Carie Murray also emphasized the potential economic effect of extended hours.

“People coming in and out of the community — that’s good for our community,” she said.

Mike and Betty Williams, Columbus Junction, agreed.

“We have a lot of money invested in our side-by-sides and none of us are a bunch of kids. We like to ride and meet someone for a meal, and with this time change, we’d have to leave home at three o’clock to be home by (dark),” Betty Williams said.

Her husband also said the issue involved fairness. Mike Williams said snowmobiles can operate after hours, and he said the county should treat ATV/UTV drivers the same.

“I want to be fair to everyone,” he said.

The public hearing was the first opportunity for residents to formally comment on the proposal. The supervisors must pass three readings of the ordinance amendment before it is approved, although the board can waive the final two readings.

Officials indicated the issue would be on the agenda for Oct. 15.

In other action, the board:

  • Received the monthly department update from veterans affairs director Adam Caudle.
  • Approved a nearly three-acre right-of-way purchase from Bryan and Jull Hoben to relocate H Avenue east of Grandview for $30,000.
  • Approved the one-lot Mochyn Fferm subdivision southwest of Columbus Junction.

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