May 27, 2022

City Council to consider ATV/UTV’s on city streets

At the Feb. 1 Osceola City Council meeting the council voted to set a public hearing for the March 1 council meeting regarding legalizing UTV’s on city street. ATV’s and UTV’s are not currently authorized to operate on any city road. The Iowa Code allows cities to permit ATV/UTV use on local roads, much like golf carts. The City of Osceola has never authorized such use. Mayor Matt Stoll was the one who put this issue on the agenda for the Feb. 1 meeting and got the conversation started.

Currently, the Iowa Legislature has a bill (HF2130 which would essentially pre-empt county supervisors’ authority to regulate ATV/UTV use on secondary roads and permit ATV/UTV use on non-interstate primary highway over the most direct and accessible route between an all-terrain vehicle park or trail, a secondary road, and a city street designated for ATV/UTV use (if applicable). It was passed out of committee.

“The concern over permitting ATV/UTV use on city streets is all safety related. However, I’ve reached out to several communities throughout the state, many have permitted ATV/UTV use without incident,” said City Administrator Ty Wheeler. “Additionally, there were also the same concerns expressed when the City of Osceola considered legalizing golf carts on city streets, but we haven’t had any issues that I know since they became legal to operate on city roads.”

The city has dealt with golf carts locally, the state dealt with E-bikes a few years ago, and now on to UTV’s and ATV’s.

“There is certainly a recreational component at play with these issues, but I also think there may be cost and environmental factors that are creating a space for these alternatives to traditional vehicle use on local roads,” said Wheeler.

“If the State ends up passing HF 2130, I think there will be a practicality issue to dealing with UTV’s and ATV’s on city streets. For example, if the most direct route from point A to point B is to drive an ATV through town on a local road to the nearest state highway, is the PD really going to stop those vehicles and ticket them? It begins to feel like what the State Legislature did with fireworks, which allows cities to ban the use of fireworks but not the sale of fireworks,” said Wheeler.

Tyra Audlehelm

Tyra Audlehelm

I grew up in Osceola and live here still with my husband and son. I graduated with my Bachelor degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2017. I have work at the OST since January of 2018.