Government | Sauk Valley News

Lee County UTV committee considers fee waiver for riders with city permits

County tweaks draft ordinance and sends it off for review

DIXON – The Lee County UTV committee continues to work on a draft ordinance that would allow UTVs on county roads.

The group met Tuesday and discussed waiving the proposed $50 county permit fee for those who purchased a permit from a city that allows UTVs such as Dixon or Amboy. The riders would still need to register with the county and follow county rules.

Committee Chairman Jack Skrogstad said the county should also make sure that riders wanting to use county roads have a copy of the county’s ordinance, once approved, or at least agree they’ve read it during the registration process.

The fee waiver would likely only apply to Lee County residents.

The Lee County Board began talks about allowing UTVs on county roads about six years ago after being approached by the Blackhawk Trail Riders Club looking to create a connected regional trail. The vote stalled after concerns were raised about safety and liability. There was also hope, then and now, that state legislation might simplify matters.

County Board and committee members have been creating an ordinance across the last several months, but the same concerns have popped up.

The committee did a roundup of townships already allowing UTVs, of which there were eight out of 22. But some are reconsidering following advice in a letter from TOIRMA, which provides insurance coverage for townships throughout Illinois, saying allowing UTVs would be a liability risk for municipalities.

Committee member Keane Hudson said the risk of a lawsuit against the county is serious and TOIRMA’s warning should be heeded. The potential for legal action would be adverse for the county and for Lee County State’s Attorney Charley Boonstra’s office, he added.

“One civil suit in this town is going to tie up a lot of revenue; it’s going to tie up Mr. Boonstra’s office,” he said.

Another concern during the process is that state law mandates that off-highway vehicles 64 inches wide or smaller are only allowed on streets up to 35 mph, and some county roads are rated for 55 mph. The ordinance would skirt that rule by regulating vehicles of 65 inches.

One way to resolve issues with allowing UTVs would be to wait for the state to pass legislation, Hudson said.

“It’s just not going to happen right away, but it is going to happen,” he said.

The committee approved sending the revised ordinance to the public safety, health and judicial committee for further review.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

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