Spring Green Board continues to mull ATV/UTV routes, reaffirms administrator

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

The Spring Green Village Board again heavily discussed the possibility of allowing an ATV/UTV route through the village at its regular meeting March 24. Ultimately approving routes with contingencies but sending a corresponding ordinance back to committee for updates.

In February, the board received a request from a group of local ATV/UTV users, requesting a route through the village, and charged Police Chief Mike Stoddard with drafting an ordinance that regulates signage, usage and time restrictions to be reviewed at this meeting. The routes would include N. Wood Street to Madison Street, Madison Street from Shifflet Road to N. Lexington Street, and Lexington Street to Madison Street, stopping at the municipal parking lot on E Jefferson Street.

The route would need approval from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WDOT) to travel across Highway 23 and Highway 14. If the WisDOT does not approve travel across the highways, the alternate route would include N. Westmor Street to Highway 14 to Somerset Road to County Highway G to N. Wood Street.

Currently, the route is being reviewed by regional WisDOT employees, but has been approved by the county, said Andrew Kurek, a Spring Green Police officer.

The board discussed the large amount of feedback opposing the route theyhave received in various forms including letters to Village Clerk Wendy Crary from residents who live along the route or do not support the route because they believe it will have a negative impact on local tourism.

“As far as I know, there has only been the one,” said Jeff Johnson, a member of the River Riders ATV club.

However, in the board packet for the March 24 meeting, Crary included five letters from Village residents who opposed or had concerns about the route.

When the board originally discussed the matter in February when the route was first proposed, they discusses placing timing restrictions on the use of recreational vehicles and giving the route a trial period of one year, which Trustee Joel Marcus said he heard as a desire from various residents.

The draft ordinance from Stoddard stipulates that ATVs cannot be used until a half hour before sunrise, and for a half hour after sunset, as well for the ordinance and routes to be reviewed annually.

“We talked about that last time, running it for a year and just seeing how it goes,” said Jeff Freel, of the River Runners ATV Club, at the meeting. “My opinion is, I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding, they’re not as noisy as the Harley. So the people that think we shouldn’t let these come down our streets that maybe we shouldn’t allow motorcycles are coming because motorcycles are a lot louder than these things are.”

The ATV club members went on to say the recreational vehicles and riders would follow the rules outlined in the ordinance.

Area resident Barbara Pratt spoke in support of limiting the ordinance for a year, as well as how this would help bring additional customers to downtown businesses.

“And I understand that this is the purpose to support the business.” said Pratt.

Trustee Robin Reid echoed thoughts of misunderstanding from village residents.

“I also heard from a fairly large number of village residents and town residents who also love Spring Green. And a lot of people didn’t understand that we have time restrictions, they didn’t understand the route was going to be very rigid,” said Reid. “In other words, people can’t just drive all over town. They didn’t understand that you’d have to have a driver’s license, and your vehicle needs to be roadworthy, those things weren’t understood. There are a lot of misunderstandings, a lot of these issues are addressed in the ordinance itself and are very clearly spelled out.”

Reid said she supported a year-long trial period for the ordinance, and gaining feedback about their experiences with the route.

Trustee LuEtta Miller echoed Reid’s words, adding that she contacted other municipalities and the Sauk County Sheriff ’s office regarding safety concerns.

“They have had very few if any illegal activity throughout the length of duration that they have the municipalities that had the ordinances,” said Miller.

Ed Lilla, a Wood Street resident spoke during the meeting, saying he is not opposed to the route, but does have concerns.

“I don’t accept all that somehow, village residents are ignorant to the fact that, you know, motorcycles make noise and other things make noise. And these vehicles aren’t that noisy. I bought this home, and I’m improving it. And I understood that motorcycles, Harley’s and everything else passing in front of the house make a lot of noise,” said Lilla. “20-30 of these vehicles in a caravan, which may not happen here, that’s what I’m waiting to see. I’m glad to see that the ordinance has the best time of operation, I’m glad to see that the ordinance addresses alcohol, you know, I trust that this group will be good stewards, and that won’t be an issue. But I do have a 12 year old son that’s kind of finding his way around town on his bike and things like that now.”

Lilla continued, “I have some reservation on the review, I think once these things go into place their hard to remove.”

Ultimately, the board chose to take no action on the item, and returned it to committee for updated language surrounding the year-long review clause. The board will take up discussion and possible action on the route and ordinance at its next meeting.

Village Administrator

At its Feb. 10 board meeting, the village board voted to create a village administrator position, that was designed for village clerk Wendy Crary to fill that position, in addition to her current duties.

Following approval of the position and position description, the board voted to appoint Crary into the position, however that action item did not appear on the approved and publicly noticed agenda for the meeting.

At the regular March 24 meeting, the board took up an agendized action item to reaffirm Crary’s appointment as village administrator, per the village attorney’s advice, according to Crary.

The vote to appoint Crary as village administrator was unanimous.

This story has been updated to clarify the board’s actions at the meeting.