116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion City Council is taking steps to allow off-road utility terrain vehicles to be driven on city streets.
The ordinance must go through two more readings and council votes before it can go into effect.
Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly voted no on the measure at Thursday’s council meeting, saying he was “still on the fence.”
“It doesn’t mean I can’t get there, but I’m still apprehensive about this,” he said.
Other council members who had been undecided in past discussions voted yes.
“I started against, but after doing the legwork, I’ve come around to it,” council member Steve Jensen said.
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 issue 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 miles per hour 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 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Operators must be 18 or older with a valid driver’s license.
Violators could be fined $50 to $300, depending on whether they’ve had previous offenses.
No residents spoke in opposition to the ordinance Thursday night, but those in favor of it advocated for higher fines for rulebreakers.
“I feel the fines are too low,” Marion resident Joe Kruser said. “We’ve been working a long time to get this pushed through, and I don’t want a couple of bad doers ruining it for us. I’d love to see the headlines say: UTV passed, but with extraordinarily high fines.”
Marion resident Jason Ross agreed.
“I would like to see significant fines,” he added. “We’ve done hard work on this.”
The council will vote on the ordinance for the second time when it meets later this month.
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