2014-06-26 / Front Page

ORVs allowed on state highways starting July 1

By Kelly Taylor-Jerome
Editor * kjerome@mihomepaper.com * 810-245-9343

HURON COUNTY — Off-road vehicle operators may ride on state highways beginning Tuesday after the Huron County Board of Commissioners adopted a change in the county’s ordinance.

Following legislation passed in 2013 allowing counties to permit ORV use on state roads, the ordinance change will allow ORVs on M-19, M-25, M-53 and M-142.

According to Commissioner Dave Peruski, the ordinance states an ORV may be operated on the far right of the maintained portion of the road, however, an ORV may not be operated on city and village streets. If there is not a right shoulder or the right shoulder is not of adequate width, the operator may ride on the far right unmaintained portion of the highway or on the maintained portion if necessary to cross a bridge or culvert. If the operator must drive onto the roadway, he or she must come to a complete stop before entering and yield the right of way to approaching vehicles on that traffic lane.

The change deletes restrictions in an ordinance passed by commissioners last year that allowed ORVs on county roads.

Townships, villages and cities may adopt an ordinance to close county or state roads within their boundaries, Peruski said. It will be up to the individual municipalities to post signage or otherwise alert operators that ORVs are not allowed.

Before the ordinance change was adopted Tuesday, commissioners held a public hearing to allow community members to voice their opinions regarding the proposed changes.

Caseville Township Supervisor Larry Degg said the ordinance change will be a boon for his community.

“Caseville Township, being a resort community, has been looking forward to this for quite a bit of time. It’s going to make things much easier for the people to get into the city. It’s going to add a lot of plusses to our whole area,” he said.

Dale Ricker, of the Ubly Fox Hunters Club, thanked the commissioners for considering the ordinance change. The Fox Hunters Club holds ORV events throughout Huron County, and the previous ordinance kept many participants from riding into town for meals, sightseeing and services.

“That’s where the gas stations are, they are on the state highways. So we were really pinned in. A lot of folks who came up and were part of our rides were not from the area and wanted to spend time, money, as well as eat and enjoy some of the sites. So, I think this is going to be a real big plus,” he said.

Carl Duda, a farmer from Lincoln Township, expressed concerns that the presence of ORVs on state highways could endanger both operators and drivers of vehicles with whom they will share the road.

“Aren’t we going to jeopardize a lot of lives? I’m not against this, no, but I think it’s a very unsafe issue,” he said.

Commissioner Steve Vaughan responded that the Huron County Sheriff’s Office has not reported any issues since the county began allowing ORVs on its roads last year.

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