Off-road ordinance advances; 1 more read to go



Two readings down, one to go.

The Brownstown Town Council recently unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance establishing traffic regulations for the registration and operation of off-road vehicles on town streets and alleys.

The final reading will be during the council’s next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Brownstown Town Hall.

A couple of minor changes were made before the council voted on the second reading.

One was changing “inspection fee” to “registration fee.” The ordinance would require a utility task vehicle owner to pay a $25 registration fee to have a town police officer inspect his or her vehicle.

If the third reading passes, the council would determine when the ordinance goes into effect and when owners would be able to stop by the town hall to pay the fee and set up an inspection.

The UTV operator, who must be at least 18, would have to show proof of a motor vehicle driver’s license, vehicle registration and liability insurance. The vehicle must meet the standards of headlights, taillights and brakes; be equipped with a functional rear-view mirror; and have either an orange pennant or flag, a slow-moving vehicle emblem or a turn signal kit.

After an officer verifies the vehicle is insured and equipped as required by the ordinance, the owner would be issued a permit and a decal, which would need to be attached to or displayed on the rear panel of the UTV. The inspections would continue on an annual basis.

The other change to the ordinance was including a provision that the town is not liable for accidents or damage. The ordinance states that a UTV cannot be occupied by more people than for which it’s designed, and each occupant must have and use a separate seat and wear a seat belt.

The ordinance came about after local UTV enthusiasts approached Councilman Matt Smith about allowing them to drive their vehicles in town. About a dozen of them attended the Feb. 6 meeting when the ordinance was introduced, and some of them returned for the second reading Feb. 21.

According to the ordinance, UTVs would not be allowed on town streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

They cannot be on sidewalks, the walking trail in town, school property, unpaved surfaces of public property or private property without permission of the owner. They also cannot be on Bridge Street, Walnut Street or Base Road when school buses are present.

Also, according to state law, UTVs cannot be driven on federal highways or state roads, which in Brownstown includes U.S. 50 and state roads 135 and 250. They can only cross those roads in a 90-degree path.

A couple of UTV owners at the meetings said Salem has an ordinance allowing them to ride on streets and highways in that Washington County city. They also had received permission from North Vernon officials to drive on their roads for a benefit ride, and they have permits and decals from Crothersville and Medora to ride UTVs in those towns.

In drafting the ordinance, town attorney Rodney Farrow said he implemented aspects of Salem and Crothersville’s ordinances along with state law.

Anyone violating the ordinance would be fined $50 for the first offense in a one-year period and $100 for the second offense. That money would go into the town’s general fund and be made available for appropriation to the police department’s operating budget. A second violation within a year also would result in the operator’s permit being revoked.

If a UTV driver operates unlicensed or without required equipment, the vehicle would be impounded until retrieved by the owner and a properly licensed operator. The vehicle would not be released until it’s properly registered and all towing and storage fees are paid.

UTVs not reclaimed within 30 days would be deemed abandoned and sold as surplus property.

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What: Brownstown Town Council considering the final reading of a proposed UTV ordinance

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Brownstown Town Hall, 200 W. Walnut St., Brownstown

Who: Open to the public


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