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Elkins Council set to vote on ATV ordinance

ELKINS — Elkins City Council will vote tonight on the second and final reading of a proposed ordinance that would allow ATVs and UTVs to drive on the streets within city limits.

On Nov. 19, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton broke a 5-5 tie by casting his vote to approve on first reading the proposed ordinance.

The tie vote came after a lengthy and at time contentious discussion on the ATV ordinance by council members, as well as a motion to send the ordinance back to the committee to be revised — that vote also resulted in a 5-5 tie.

One of the four candidates for mayor in the March municipal election, Jerry Marco, released a statement this week addressing the ATV ordinance.

“Currently individuals are permitted to ride ‘street legal’ ATVs and UTVs on state maintained roads and highways, but are prohibited from riding them on our city streets,” Marco writes. “If the aforementioned ordinance is passed, we will potentially see an increase of ATV and UTV traffic on the streets in Elkins…

“I have spoken with several residents to gain insight on how the noted ordinance will impact our city, and their lives personally,” he writes. “Many Senior Citizens have expressed reservations about passage of this law because of the increased street traffic that will follow. The following are some of the current concerns they have shared with me:

“(1) Senior Citizens and other residents experience difficulty with Out-of-State drivers who often disregard our posted speed limits and traffic laws for pedestrians, which cause hazards when crossing the street.

“(2) Senior Citizens are concerned with the skate-boarders and bicyclists that ride on sidewalks and in prohibited areas, or on the wrong side of the road. The Senior Citizens want to keep the streets safe for themselves as well as the individuals riding a skateboard or bicycle legally.

“(3) Senior Citizens are concerned with the distracted drivers using cell phones and not focusing on the road, or pedestrian traffic.

“These are just a few of the concerns that were shared by our Senior Citizens, but realistically impact all of our citizens on a daily basis,” Marco writes. “Our Senior Citizens are responsible for making Elkins the great town it is today. I would encourage our community to honor our past as we plan for the future.

“I do understand some citizens are in favor of the proposed ordinance, and are excited about the possibility of riding their ATV or UTV on our streets. I respect their opinion, and will support the decision made by our City Council,” he writes. “However, when I think of riding an ATV or UTV, I imagine getting away from the city and enjoying nature. We have been blessed with beautiful mountains and rivers that provide natural therapy when you need to clear your head, or make memories with family and friends.

“For this reason, I encourage contact with Ward Councilmen and Councilwomen to share personal views about this issue. I also encourage our community to remember that is ok to professionally disagree, and still remain friendly with our fellow citizens. Our town is too small and has so much to offer to let a disagreement over an ordinance cause a divide.”

Elkins City Council will meet at 7 p.m. tonight in City Hall.

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