Lee County not ready to go full throttle on UTV permits

Board forms committee to address safety issues raised about provision

DIXON – Lee County Board members want more time before deciding whether they’ll allow UTVs on county roads after community concerns and unanswered questions.

The Blackhawk Trail Riders Club approached the county five years ago about approving an ordinance to allow utility terrain vehicles to ride on county roads, but the vote stalled after concerns were raised about safety and liability. State legislation pending at the time also would have regulated UTV riding on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or less, but such legislation never materialized.

Although the club got most townships on board with allowing the vehicles, including the city of Dixon and the Dixon Park District, the riders needed county roads to create a connected trail. The overall goal was to connect a trail from the Sauk Valley to Wisconsin, which has an extensive trail system.

Supporters recently returned to the board asking the group to revisit the ordinance, which was tabled last month and slated to be voted on Thursday.

Dixon resident Mark Cecchetti spoke to the board Thursday with concerns about allowing UTVs, especially on Lowell Park Road. The speed limit was reduced from 55 to 45 on the road, but speeding has been a recurring concern, in part because of some vehicle crashes.

“This is an all-day, everyday thing,” Cecchetti said. “It’s a very busy road, and it needs to be addressed in a serious manner.”

Cecchetti said he also has had problems with UTV riders driving illegally on the road already and has worked with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department about the problems.

He presented similar complaints to the Dixon City Council and Dixon Park Board in 2017 before they approved UTV ordinances.

Board Chairman Bob Olson said they will table the ordinance again and form a committee to hash out specifics and procedures.

“I don’t think we have all the details for this,” he said. “I think we put the cart before the horse.”

Unanswered questions include the permitting process, sites for inspections and fee structure, which the committee will address.

The board approved tabling the ordinance.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.