116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion City Council on Thursday approved the second reading of a proposed ordinance that would allow off-road utility terrain vehicles to be operated on city streets.
The ordinance must go through one more reading at the next council meeting in August.
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly was the only council member to vote “no,” as he did at the first reading.
“I’m still not in favor. I haven’t been convinced yet,” AbouAssaly said. “I hear the argument that other cities are doing it, but far more cities are not doing it.”
The other ‘yes’ votes from council members does not mean they’ve decided, however, as more discussion will be had over the coming weeks leading to the August meeting.
“The importance of going through three readings gives adequate opportunity for those for and those against to bring before us their perspectives,” said council member Grant Harper. “I’m hopeful in our third and final consideration, any additional perspectives will be brought forward.”
Fellow council member Colette Atkins agreed.
“I’m, too, taking the information from those in support of this and those against,” Atkins said. “I’m still considering this as we collect that info. I urge folks to bring forward perspectives as we make an important decision.”
UTVs, also called utility task vehicles or side-by-sides, are like all-terrain vehicles in their use for off-road recreation. But UTVs are heavier, can have up to six wheels and haul heavy loads.
Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller said at an April council meeting that he was OK with the proposal after talking with police chiefs in Council Bluffs and Ankeny, where UTVs are allowed on city streets. Both cities are larger than Marion.
“They’ve had zero issues with them,” Kitsmiller said at the time. “I’ve been kind of won over. I was concerned about safety, but from the law enforcement perspective, we can handle it.”
If the ordinance passes, UTVs could be operated on any city roadway with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, except for 10th Avenue east of 35th Street and East Post Road south of Oak Brook Drive.
In addition, use of UTVs would be allowed only from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Operators must be 18 or older with a valid driver’s license.
In response to residents’ request for higher fines, Kitsmiller adjusted the penalties. For example, breaking the proposed hour restriction rule could result in fines of $250, $500 and $850 on the first, second and third offenses, respectively. Originally, violators faced fines $50 to $300, depending on whether they’ve had previous offenses.
City Manager Ryan Waller said if the ordinance passes, the city would plan to review it after six months to see if it’s successful. If issues arise before that time, he said, a review would happen sooner.
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