City council unanimously approves ORV ordinance.

March 11, 2020

Hart City Council members, from left to right, Catalina Burillo, Joe Frontiera, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Hegedus, Mayor Ron LaPorte, Jason LaFever, Vicki Platt and Robert Splane.

City council unanimously approves ORV ordinance.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — The Hart City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday, March 10, that allows ORVs and golf carts to operate on city streets.

The city joins 10 of the county’s 16 townships in allowing ORVs to operate on roads in their municipalities.

The townships of Colfax, Crystal, Elbridge, Grant, Greenwood, Leavitt, Newfield, Otto, Shelby and Weare all have ORV ordinances in place, said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast. Hart and Ferry townships are “actively working” to get ordinances on record, Mast said. The Shelby Village Council is slated to vote on an ORV ordinance March 23.

“I think the economic benefits this might bring are good,” said Councilor Robert Splane, who made the motion to pass the ordinance. “Michigan is all about recreation.”

It was the council’s second reading of the ordinance, and the city planning commission had a public hearing on the matter, said Hart City Manager Lynne Ladner.

“If it turns out to be a nuisance, it can always be repealed,” Splane said.

No one spoke against the proposal Tuesday night.

Although Mast said he does not oppose ORV ordinances in most Oceana County townships, he is strongly opposed to one in Golden Township where the Silver Lake Sand Dunes are located. The Silver Lake State Park draws over a million visitors a year, and riding the dunes on ORVs is the big attraction.

“I am very much opposed to one in Golden Township,” the sheriff said. “It would be a huge mess with all of the ORVs they have. For the community and travelers, it could be very dangerous.”

Mast said Benona Township’s close proximity to the popular sand dunes also makes that community a bad location for ORVs on the roads.

“I don’t foresee ORV ordinances in Golden or Benona,” he said.

George Sadler, who owns Kristi’s Pour House in downtown Hart, spoke in favor of the ordinance. “I went to Ludington, and they think it’s a very good thing,” he said. “It’s a huge boom for them. It seems like it would be a good thing for the businesses downtown.”

Both Ludington and Scottville have adopted ORV ordinances in recent years.

Mast said he is working with the townships to make the ordinances similar, which streamlines enforcement.

“ORVs bring a significant economic impact to the community,” said Richard Raffaelli, who is on the Shelby Township Planning Commission. “I ask that you vote for what’s right for the economic community — and not with your feelings,” Raffaelli said to the council. “You’re going to be surrounded by townships that have this ordinance.”

Mast said nearby counties have enacted similar ordinances, and they are seeing success.

“If you guys are in favor, I’m not here to stand in the way,” he said. “I’m just here to support.”

There are many rules included in the ordinance, such a 25 mph speed limit, age requirements for riders, noise levels and certain roads that ORVs cannot use. If it is a state highway, it is off-limits. In the city, state highways include Oceana Drive, Polk Road and the southern four blocks of State Street from Polk Road to Johnson Street. Although, the state roads can be crossed by ORVs.

ORV drivers must wear helmets. They must also be at least 16 years of age with a driver’s license if operating the vehicle alone and 12 years old if operating under the supervision of a parent and in possession of an ORV safety certificate.

Enforcement of the ordinance will require educating the public, said Hart Police Chief Juan Salazar.

To read the ordinance’s full language, visit cityofhart.org.
After a public notice has been published, the ordinance will take effect 10 days later, Ladner said.

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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