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Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 38 posts ] 
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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:41 am 
"NOTICE IS GIVEN that the Board of County Commissioners, constituting the governing body of Grant County, New Mexico will consider the adoption of an ordinance (the “Ordinance”) entitled: AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE OPERATION OF OFF-HIGHWAY MOTOR VEHICLES ON STREETS OR HIGHWAYS OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY GRANT COUNTY. The Ordinance will be considered at a regular meeting of the Commission on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 9:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, in the Commissioners Chambers in the Grant County Administration Building, 1400 Highway
180 East, Silver City, New Mexico, being the regular meeting place of the Board.

A copy of the Ordinance in draft form is on file and available for inspection during normal business hours at the office of the County Clerk at the Grant County Administration Building, 1400 Highway 180 East, Silver City, New Mexico"

Brett Kasten
Chairman, Board of County Commissioners
Grant County, New Mexico


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:45 pm 
But as usual this proposed ordinance does not appear to be on the county's web site. Will Grant County enter the 21st Century any time soon and post relevant information such as ordinances, maps, and election results?

Bruce


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 Author: timmatthes
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:26 am 
Right you are, Bruce-you have to go to the county clerk's office to read it.

Not posting things on line goes right along with the commission having their meetings when most people can't attend.


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 Author: timmatthes
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:11 pm 
I went to the county and got a copy of the proposed ordinance. It's very short, adopting the state law in it's entirety. It has only one difference-only side by side, four wheel UTVs are allowed.


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:13 pm 
Below I've attached a copy of the proposed ordinance as a downloadable .pdf.
The below file is the legal NOI but is being rewritten, will the commission choose to deal with this as a new NOI?

Attachment:
OHV.ResolutionR-17-39.pdf [506.89 KiB]
Downloaded 115 times


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:53 pm 
The County Attorney is still working on drafting the proposed ordinance. I'll post it here when I get it, since the County's website improvement project is languishing.

Thanks, Tim, for what you posted, but that's not the updated version. Commissioner Edwards requested a number of modifications that the Attorney is incorporating.

--Harry


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:43 pm 
So Harry, since the whole commission, including yourself passed and signed the copy I posted above making it a legal document, will this new version become a new NOI since it won't be the same as the one you passed?


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:46 pm 
John--

The Commission passed a Notice of Intent to adopt an ordinance allowing Off-Highway Vehicles on paved county roads in July. When significant changes were requested in that ordinance, we decided to put off considering it until our September meeting. That decision required a resolution changing the date on which we intended to vote on the ordinance, so we passed another resolution with the updated date. We have not adopted the document you posted; it was merely an initial draft.

I am as frustrated as many of you at the poor usability and generally obsolete nature of the county's website. I continue to receive assurances that progress is being made at developing a replacement.

Following is the updated draft of the ordinance we will consider on September 19. (Yes, our September regular meeting will be on Tuesday, not on Thursday as it usually is.) It is not available on our website, but I have forwarded it to the County Clerk, so it should be available from her.

AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE OPERATION OF OFF-HIGHWAY MOTOR VEHICLES ON STREETS OR HIGHWAYS OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY GRANT COUNTY

WHEREAS, the New Mexico Legislature amended Section 66-3-1011 NMSA 1978, allowing a county, by ordinance or resolution, to authorize the operation of off-highway motor vehicles on paved streets or highways owned and controlled by the county; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Grant County Commissioners desires to adopt an ordinance that would authorize the operation of off-highway motor vehicles, as defined herein, on streets or highways owned and controlled by Grant County; and

WHEREAS, the Board duly published notice of its intention to consider the present ordinance at least fourteen (14) days prior to the present meeting, in accordance with NMSA (1978) § 4-37-7; and

WHEREAS, the Board held an open public hearing on the consideration of the present ordinance at which there was an opportunity for public comment.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED THAT THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF GRANT COUNTY DOES HEREBY ADOPT AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE OPERATION OF OFF-HIGHWAY MOTOR VEHICLES ON STREETS OR HIGHWAYS OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY GRANT COUNTY, AS FOLLOWS:

I. AUTHORIZATION.

A. The Board of Commissioners of Grant County, New Mexico hereby authorize the operation of recreational off-highway vehicles, as defined herein, on any paved street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County under the conditions set forth in the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act, Sections 66-3-1011 through 66-3-1016 NMSA 1978 (and any amendments thereto) and this Ordinance; and

B. The operation of recreational off-highway motor vehicles is prohibited at all times on limited access highways and freeways, pursuant to NMSA (1978) Section 66-3-1011A(1).

II. DEFINITION.

A. An Off-Highway Motor Vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle designed by the manufacturer for operation exclusively off the highway or road and for purposes of this Ordinance is limited to Recreational Off-highway Vehicle (“ROV”), which means a motor vehicle designed for travel on four or more non-highway tires, for recreational use by one or more persons, and having:
(1) a steering wheel for steering control;
(2) non-straddle seating;
(3) maximum speed capability greater than thirty-five miles per hour;
(4) gross vehicle weight rating no greater than one thousand seven hundred fifty pounds;
(5) less than eighty inches in overall width, exclusive of accessories;
(6) engine displacement of less than one thousand cubic centimeters; and
(7) identification by means of a seventeen-character vehicle identification number.

B. The authorization granted by this Ordinance for the operation of off-highway motor vehicles is limited to ROVs. No other vehicle defined as an off-highway motor vehicle under NMSA 66-3-1001.1E is authorized for operation on any paved street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County.

III. EQUIPMENT.

A. ROVs may not be operated on any street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County unless:
(1) the vehicle has one or more headlights and one or more taillights that comply with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act;
(2) the vehicle has brakes, mirrors (including driver-side rear view), and mufflers, and a signal horn;
(3) the operator and all passengers are properly secured by safety belts;
(4) the operator of the vehicle is wearing eye protection and a safety helmet that comply with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act;
(5) all passengers under eighteen are wearing eye protection and securely fastened safety helmets in compliance with NMSA Section 66-3-1010.3B(1); and
(6) the vehicle is equipped with a spark arrester approved by the United States forest service.

IV. LICENSE, PERMITS, INSURANCE, REGISTRATION.

A. A person must have obtained the following in order to operate an ROV:
(1) A valid Driver’s License. Neither a learner’s permit nor a motorcycle license shall satisfy this requirement;
(2) An off-highway motor vehicle safety permit issued by an organization approved and certified by the State of New Mexico, Department of Motor Vehicles;
(3) Insurance or evidence of financial responsibility for ROV being operated in compliance with the provisions of the Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act, NMSA Section 66-5-205; and
(4) Unless excepted under NMSA Section 66-3-1, registration of ROV being operated. For New Mexico residents, ROVs must be registered at the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division. For nonresidents, ROVs must be registered in the owner’s state of residence. For nonresidents whose state of residence does not provide for registration of ROVs, nonresidents must obtain a nonresident permit through the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. A home owner’s policy will not satisfy this requirement.
B. If applicable, proof of items (1) through (4) must be in a person’s possession while operating an ROV.

V. OPERATION.

A. A person shall not operate an off-highway motor vehicle:
(1) in excess of the posted speed limit or as otherwise prescribed by state law;
(2) in a careless, reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the person or property of another;
(3) while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs as provided by Section 66-8-102 NMSA 1978;
(4) while in pursuit of and with intent to hunt or take a species of animal or bird protected by law unless otherwise authorized by the state game commission;
(5) in pursuit of or harassment of livestock in any manner that negatively affects the livestock’s condition;
(6) to intentionally approach wildlife;
(7) on or within an earthen tank or other structure meant to water livestock or wildlife, unless the off-highway motor vehicle is on a route designated by the landowner or land management agency as an off-highway motor vehicle route;
(8) in a manner that has a direct negative effect on or interferes with persons engaged in agricultural practices;
(9) in excess of ten miles per hour within two hundred feet of a business, animal shelter, horseback rider, bicyclist, pedestrian, livestock or occupied dwelling, unless the person operates the vehicle on a closed course or track;
(10) when conditions such as darkness limit visibility to five hundred feet or less, unless the vehicle is equipped with:
(a) one or more headlights of sufficient candlepower to light objects at a distance of one hundred fifty feet; and
(b) at least one taillight of sufficient intensity to exhibit a red or amber light at a distance of two hundred feet under normal atmospheric conditions;
(11) that produces noise that exceeds ninety-six decibels when measured using test procedures established by the society of automotive engineers pursuant to standard J-1287;
(12) in the left lane of traffic or in a side-by-side manner. ROVs must be operated single file and as far to the right of the right lane as safely possible;
(13) all occupants are sitting in a designated seat in the ROV;
(14) where off-highway motor vehicle traffic is prohibited under local, state or federal rules or regulations; or
(15) near or within residential areas between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the storage and removal of the ROV.

B. An off-highway motor vehicle shall not be sold or offered for sale if the vehicle produces noise that exceeds ninety-six decibels when measured using test procedures established by the society of automotive engineers pursuant to standard J-1287. This subsection shall not apply to an off-highway motor vehicle that is sold or offered for sale only for organized competition.

C. Operators must follow this Ordinance and all state laws pertaining to the operation of motor vehicles as set forth in the Motor Vehicle Code, Chapter 66, NMSA 1978.

VI. AGE RESTRICTIONS.

A. A person must be at least sixteen years of age to operate an ROV.

B. Operators under the age of eighteen shall not be permitted to carry passengers, regardless of vehicle design.

C. A person under the age of eighteen shall not operate an off-highway motor vehicle unless the person is visually supervised at all times by a parent, legal guardian or a person over the age of eighteen who has a valid driver’s license.

VII. SPEED LIMIT.

ROVs operating on streets or highways owned and controlled by Grant County shall operate at either the posted speed limit or at a speed limit that may be established by the New Mexico State Transportation Commission for such vehicles, whichever is slower.

VIII. ENFORCEMENT.

Prosecution of violations under this section may be commenced by the issuance of a citation charging the violation. Citations may be issued by a deputy from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the code enforcement officer of Grant County, a wildlife conservation officer, state police officer or any other peace officer with jurisdiction in Grant County.

IX. PENALTIES.

Any individual, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity who violates this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined in an amount not to exceed $300 and may be imprisoned for up to ninety (90) days, or both.

X. EFFECTIVE DATE.

This Ordinance shall take effect thirty days after it has been recorded in the book kept by the county for that purpose in the Grant County Clerk’s Office.


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 Author: Kevin B
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:51 am 
Thanks Harry. There's a few things I'm a little bewildered by, maybe others are too, maybe you can help clear them up.

I. AUTHORIZATION. - A. The Board of Commissioners of Grant County, New Mexico hereby authorize the operation of recreational off-highway vehicles, as defined herein, on any paved street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County...

Are the referred to "paved street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County," ones marked by a sign displaying the letters CMR? If that's what this sentence means perhaps this ordinance could say so. Otherwise how are riders to know which roads are permissible to ride on and which aren't. If marked CMR's aren't what the County intends, this section really isn't clear.

Many County roads, maybe even the majority, are covered with gravel and are not actually "paved", or they're covered with base course that's so firmly packed it can be difficult to distinguish from pavement. Does the County intend to exclude those roads and do the BOC's expect ROV riders are going to reasonably make the distinction in pavement and cover types?

Meanwhile, subdivision roads dedicated to and accepted by the County may or may not be maintained and marked CMR, even though owned by the subdivision and/or its resident lot owners. In some cases such roads aren't owned by anyone, at least not anyone who's still alive, and even when the County has accepted their maintenance it's not like that responsibility is upheld with any measure of diligence. Deep knobby tread ROV tires can do a lot of damage, particularly in the hands of a teenager. And even conscientious ROV riders will be left to figure out which roads fall into which category. In many cases property owners don't even know or understand their rights and obligations where shared roadways are concerned. And how are the Sheriffs responding to trespass and property damage complaints supposed to figure this out? It would seem this ordnance is imposing an unstated duty upon subdivision and private roadway owners to identify and protect their non-county owned roads with signage, gates, and fences. Is that what this comes down to?

With regard to driving ROV's on paved roads. The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) was formed to promote the safe and responsible use of recreational off-highway vehicles. It is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifically for the purpose of developing a standard for the equipment, configuration and performance requirements of ROVs. Per the industry endorsed safety rules as published at http://www.rohva.org, safety rule #2 states, "Avoid paved surfaces. ROVs are designed to be operated off-highway."

By authorizing the use of ROV's on paved roads, the County is directly contradicting the ROHVA and industry accepted published standards to the peril of ROV rider safety. Are the BOC's accepting the consequences of this decision on behalf of Grant County residents? The ordnance does not appear to impose any implicit acceptance of liability upon ROV riders, as might be the case for instance if someone got thrown off their horse and ended up injured while on either public or private land. So along with this ordinance is the County insuring itself against liability, negligence, and wrongful death complaints?

Section II.B. "No other vehicle defined as an off-highway motor vehicle under NMSA 66-3-1001.1E is authorized for operation on any paved street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County."


By specifying ROV's, the ordnance appears to exclude UTV's and MOHUV's, yet by citing NMSA 66-3-1001.1E apparently includes go-carts and home built contraptions, of which there are plenty around here. Where registration with the MVD comes into play this gets even more dicey since not all road legal vehicles can even be registered in New Mexico, mopeds as case in point, yet fully road legal according to state law, while excluded under NMSA 66-3-1001.1E (having only two wheels). And in any case, as with mopeds, the ordinance imposes no requirement to display an identifying placard, so how are violators to be identified? When an ROV rips up your front lawn and takes off down a paved County road, even if you get a photo of it, then what?


V. OPERATION.
A. A person shall not operate an off-highway motor vehicle:

(9) in excess of ten miles per hour within two hundred feet of a business, animal shelter, horseback rider, bicyclist, pedestrian, livestock or occupied dwelling, unless the person operates the vehicle on a closed course or track;


Along most of Cottage San Road and most other County roads, riders will be well within 200' of an occupied dwelling, pedestrian or livestock animal and therefore limited to traveling at under 10mph. Does the BOC actually believe this speed restriction will be observed​? Moreover, what's to prevent serious accidents and injury with the vehicles traveling at 60mph on Cottage San Road as they do every day already? Why does this ordnance not at least require 10mph ROV's to display an SMV emblem, as NM law requires of other Slow Moving Vehicles? To be blunt about it, the 10mph restriction in these cases is impractical, unrealistic and dangerous.

(15) near or within residential areas between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., except for the storage and removal of the ROV.

So ROV's are prohibited from riding past their neighbor's house at two in the afternoon, but two in the morning is okay. Am I just not understanding the logic here?

III. EQUIPMENT. - A. ROVs may not be operated on any street or highway owned and controlled by Grant County unless: (2) the vehicle has,,,, mufflers,,,,

This ordinance lacks any mention of noise and in no way does the requirement for a muffler prohibit an ROV from being ear piercing screaming loud. For some insight on how this plays out in the real world have a talk with people who live downtown and recall the 'muffled' motorcycles attracted by the Buffalo Bar, or look over some of the old conversation on this Forum about the noise problem.

For what it's worth, I'm highly in favor of small fuel efficient vehicles and absolutely prefer to see them replace these diesel guzzling exhaust spewing roaring behemoths we're subjected to around here. But I also believe, that good objective will not be served in the end if the County adopts an ordinance that works to the opposition of safety, the rights of private property owners, or can't be enforced because it's too vague to apply. On that note, critical to the implementation of this ordinance are the law enforcement agencies being called upon to enforce it. Has the BOC's invited representatives from those agencies to be a part of this drafting and received their endorsement of it?

Thanks again, thanks for posting this NOI, and thanks for your service. - kb


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:19 pm 
A lot of good questions from Kevin. One more: Can OHVs operate on state highways like 90 or 180? I believe the ordinance was borrowed from a state law. Does state law deal with OHVs on state highways? I assume (and hope) that OHVs are not allowed on federal highways (the tiny bit of I-10 that crosses Grant County).

Bruce


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:39 pm 
Thanks, Kevin, for the excellent questions and the time you took to consider this issue! I’ll do my best to answer them, as well as Bruce’s.

No, roads marked “CMR” (county-maintained roads) are NOT included in this ordinance. For one thing, I’m pretty sure all CMRs are unpaved; this ordinance applies ONLY to paved county roads. For another, I don’t believe the county *owns* CMRs – otherwise, they’d be county roads. I think they’re privately owned but maintained by the county.

Note that it is already legal to operate OHVs on unpaved roads, as long as they meet state requirements. This means that we currently DO expect OHV drivers to distinguish between paved and unpaved roads – the former are off-limits, but not the latter. If this ordinance passes, the need to distinguish between pavement and dirt/gravel/mud goes away, to be replaced by the need to distinguish between county roads on the one hand and state routes and highways and city streets on the other. State routes and highways are *not* covered by this ordinance, so 180, 90, 15, 35, 152, 61, 357, etc. will all remain off-limits to OHV operators. (Except that it is legal for OHV operators to *cross* those highways as nearly perpendicular to traffic as possible.) City streets are likewise not covered by this ordinance. Silver City has already considered and rejected an ordinance brought by Councilor Ray to allow OHVs. Santa Clara, on the other hand, has passed a similar ordinance, so they’re okay on Santa Clara streets.

I think the previous paragraph addresses your concerns about subdivision roads and privately owned roads. The ordinance doesn’t seem to me to change anything about the potential for confusion that already exists for OHV operators on unpaved roads near or on the types of roads you’re talking about.

As for safety concerns related to using OHVs on paved roads, I have to say I’m not convinced one way or the other about this. The Association’s safety rule that you cite presumably applies to unmodified OHVs. The state law that authorizes cities and counties to adopt ordinances such as this one requires OHVs to be modified to improve their safety on paved roads. They have to have mirrors, headlights, taillights safety belts, signal horns, and spark arresters. Their drivers have to wear eye protection and a helmet (unlike motorcycle riders). These things were enough for the State Legislature and the Governor, and although these are far from paragons of good policymaking, I have to acknowledge that on this point I don’t have a better perspective than they do. What’s more, to the extent that our concern is about the drivers and passengers in OHVs, surely they are safer than many other legal conveyances, including the mopeds you mention and the bicycle on which I commute daily. I would be furious if someone told me I couldn’t use my bike because it was less safe than a car.

The ordinance DOES require the operator to carry evidence of adequate liability insurance or financial responsibility equal to that required of normal motor vehicles (see IV. A. (3)). I don’t believe the ordinance would expose the county to any additional liability if it passes.

As for allowing “home built contraptions,” I would say that, as long as they meet state safety requirements, I see no reason to discriminate against them in favor of corporate-built contraptions. I don’t know how a home built contraption obtains a 17-digit vehicle identification number, as required by the ordinance and state law, but if it can, more power to its owner and builder!

Also, the ordinance DOES require an identifying placard, although it does so indirectly, by requiring operators to “follow all state laws pertaining to the operation of motor vehicles…” State law is more explicit: “A. The department shall issue a standardized special off-highway motor vehicle paved road use vehicle plate with a logo specified in Section 66-3-424 NMSA 1978 indicating that the recipient intends to operate an off-highway motor vehicle on paved streets or highways in accordance with the provisions of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act.” And, “The division, upon registering an off-highway motor vehicle, shall issue to the owner validating stickers as provided in Section 66-3-14 NMSA 1978.”

You nailed a couple of problems with the drafting of the ordinance. As for V. A. (9), I believe the county attorney omitted four crucial words from the end of that sentence. Here’s what’s in the ordinance: “A. A person shall not operate an off-highway motor vehicle:

(9) in excess of ten miles per hour within two hundred feet of a business, animal shelter, horseback rider, bicyclist, pedestrian, livestock or occupied dwelling, unless the person operates the vehicle on a closed course or track;”

In state statute, that requirement appears word-for-word, except that it ends with “or a public roadway.” These four words make the ordinance meaningful instead of unworkable, and I’ve asked the attorney to explain their omission.

As for the time during which OHVs are not to be operated, the attorney explained that was a typo. Their operation is generally prohibited from 8pm to 8am, not during the day.

The ordinance DOES mention noise, in V. A. (11). An OHV is not legal to operate on paved roads if it makes more than 96 decibels of noise. I live in the historic downtown district, and I well remember the bad old days of extremely loud motorcycles at the Buff. One of my hopes (I may be dreaming) is that some portion of the increase in OHV use that accompanies passage of this ordinance will replace the use of large pickup trucks. That’s because owners of OHVs are also often owners of large pickups, which get used for errands that could be done on OHVs in some cases. Also, there will be less of a need to transport OHVs in the backs of large pickups if they can be driven to the roads on which they’ll be used instead.

Last, as far as I know, law enforcement has NOT been part of drafting this ordinance. I have met with Sheriff Villanueva and Undersheriff Flamm several times since this ordinance was proposed, however, and neither one has expressed any concerns about it to me. I will ask their opinion formally at Tuesday’s meeting.

Thanks again, Kevin, for the excellent questions and for taking the time to read and analyze the draft ordinance.

--Harry


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:51 am 
Thanks for your reply Harry, a couple of things: the ordinance says "An OHV is not legal to operate on paved roads if it makes more than 96 decibels of noise." Do the County Sheriffs have decibel meters? Is the 69 decibels read at idle or revved at the muffler or 10 feet or 20 feet?

Harry, there is a reason that NOI's are issued, to give the residents a chance to read and think about the issue and when an NOI is changed in significant ways, as this has been, it should become a new NOI, it is only fair and transparent; do the County Commissioners even care about fair and transparent.

On another note Harry: you said that the county was working on a new, modern, transparent web site but in an interview with the current web master he said that he has not been ask to rebuild the web site but did offer that the county could have ask someone else to do the job, so who has been asked to create a new web site and have you talked with him or her to verify that this is really happening? It is your job to verify these things that your employees tell you.


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 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:44 am 
Another question for Harry: the various prohibitions for operating OHV's seem to focus largely on agricultural concerns, which is ok as far as it goes. But why is there not a prohibition in the ordinance banning operating one of these vehicles on trails or similar routes where motorized travel has been prohibited? One could argue this would be redundant, but having the ordinance reinforce town, BLM, or National Forest restrictions would add a little more edge to requirements that those entities currently struggle to enforce. Shelby


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:12 pm 
On noise limitations for OHVs, we have been over and over on this with Silver City police, who mostly don't enforce our noise ordinance. I have a decibel meter on my phone, but it's not official or certified. The police chief says they would need very expensive certified meters to enforce the ordinance, and even then there would be questions of how far away the meter was.

This may be true for determining whether a vehicle is producing 90 (legal) or 100 (illegal) decibels. But in fact most violations are at 150 or more decibels, which a police officer could determine by ear with a little training. The real problem is that many police officers don't want to enforce these kinds of violations. This is not the kind of enforcement they saw themselves doing when they signed up to be a law enforcement officer. In addition, some police are the ones riding the loud motorcycles on their days off. Police officials don't really want to push on this enforcement. This is why some of us were so opposed to allowing OHVs in Silver City. The ordinance would have been all right if it had been enforced, but we knew it wouldn't be.

Noise violations on county roads would be less annoying to fewer neighbors than violations in town, but non-enforcement is still an issue to be considered.

Bruce


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:36 pm 
For John: The 96 decibels is to be measured "using test procedures established by the society of automotive engineers pursuant to standard J-1287." Here's what I found on Google about that standard: "This SAE Standard establishes the test procedure, environment, and instrumentation for determining the exhaust sound pressure levels of motorcycles under stationary conditions. Since initial publication, it has been successfully applied to regulation and monitoring of sound pressure levels of off-highway vehicles, and that remains its recommended application." So it looks like an appropriate standard to cite, but of course I have no idea what equipment and training is required.

John, the changes in the draft ordinance are (a) the reason we reissued an NOI and postponed the hearing and the vote to give the public more time; and (b) minor to the point of being insignificant. The changes merely make explicit what the state law that was referenced in the first draft already requires. As an activist who sometimes had to complain vigorously about the lack of transparency in government decisionmaking, I sometimes felt undermined by other activists who complained even when things were done right. I believe the Commission did the right thing by providing an additional month despite the inconsequential nature of the changes in the ordinance, and I think you've chosen the wrong time to suggest that the Commissioners might not "even care about fair and transparent."

The current webmaster has not been asked to rebuild the site: that work was assigned to the County's IT Coordinator, Angela Castillo, with assistance from our receptionist, Kevin Hubbs. Yes, I have checked in with both of them and have verified that they are working on this. It is not my job to oversee their work, if that is your suggestion, John; that is the County Manager's job. I do consider it my responsibility to push the county to improve its communication with the public, and this is possibly the most important aspect of communication these days.

Shelby, I don't see where the prohibitions for operating OHVs focus on agricultural concerns - can you give me an example or two? And I would say that including in the ordinance all the things the ordinance does NOT apply to would indeed be redundant. Roads through BLM or National Forest lands are not owned by the county, so they are not covered by the ordinance. I understand the desire to bolster those entities' ability and willingness to enforce their own restrictions on OHVs, but I don't think naming them in the ordinance would actually do any good in that regard.

And Bruce, it strikes me the enforcement question, although important in its own right, doesn't shed much light on the right way to vote on this ordinance. My inclination is to view the ordinance as a statement of what we Grant Countians believe is acceptable behavior, whether or not enforcement will be perfect. (It obviously isn't perfect already, given evidence that ATVs are driven in the San Vicente arroyo, where fences are cut and repaired and cut and repaired...) To view this from another perspective, Gov. Martinez and others who oppose hemp production frequently argue that allowing hemp farms will make enforcement of anti-marijuana laws more difficult and therefore should not be allowed. This strikes me as a less-than-serious argument, since it should be fairly easy to train drug enforcement personnel to distinguish between the two. I'd rather address the OHV ordinance on its merits, and then work with law enforcement to do its job.

Thanks again, all.

--Harry


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 Author: BitJam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:26 am 
Quote:
I'd rather address the OHV ordinance on its merits, and then work with law enforcement to do its job.
This seems like an extremely irresponsible attitude, basically washing your hands of the real-world consequences of your actions. If you have evidence that shows there is a solution to the existing enforcement problem then please present it. In an ideal world we wouldn't need any laws because people would naturally do the right thing. We don't live in an ideal world so the enforcement problem greatly affects the merits of this new ordinance. I don't want the ordinance to pass if it is going to increase the noise problem even if the ordinance contains clauses that would, in theory, solve the problem if only they were enforced.

Bruce presented reasonable evidence that allowing OHV's on county roads would exacerbate the noise problems we already have in Silver and environs due to a lack of enforcement of the existing laws. It is ridiculous to dismiss his real-world concerns based on some pie-in-the-sky solution that only exists in an ideal world. Instead of dismissing the enforcement problem out of hand, I suggest you solve the existing noise ordinance enforcement problem *first* before you try to pass a law that will almost certainly put more noise violators on the road, further exacerbating the noise problem.


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:07 am 
It is of course impossible to present evidence of an effect based on something that hasn't happened yet, which is why both Bruce and I are speculating about the effects of passing this ordinance on noise levels in the county. My colleague Alicia Edwards shares Bruce's opinion that the noise situation will deteriorate if we pass this. Despite my very high regard for both her and Bruce, I don't agree. I guess we all base our perceptions of the world on our own experiences. In my case, I've had several very scary encounters with large pickups and none with OHVs. I've often been pissed off about the noise and exhaust from large pickups and never from OHVs. The potential to reduce the use of large pickups is very attractive to me.

In brief, I only think my attitude deserves to be called "extremely irresponsible" if you believe I haven't considered the possible effects of the ordinance or if you somehow know the noise and exhaust and safety problems we currently face will be made worse by the passage of this ordinance. I don't agree with BitJam that Bruce presented reasonable evidence that this would happen; he merely presented his speculation about this and urged consideration of the non-enforcement issue. Which I agree with completely.


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:55 am 
I can see both sides of the noise issue. I was strongly opposed to the Silver City ordinance because I had abundant evidence that noise limitations would not be enforced. I don't know that sheriff's deputies would not respond to noise complaints. If a resident on a country road complained of a neighbor constantly making noise with an OHV, that might be addressed. But if that same neighbor complained about noise from a big diesel truck, I doubt anything would (or even could) be done. We already have big noise on some state highways (such as 15 near my property) from packs of motorcycles, and there's nothing to do about that.

I don't think county officials should have unrealistic expectations about noise enforcement just because they write it into the law. But with a new law there is an opportunity to establish a culture of restraint.

Bruce


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 Author: BitJam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:07 am 
Harry, where I live there has been an ongoing problem with excessive noise coming from OHVs illegally riding on and along our roads. A number of years ago I even had the mayor with me when this happened. I thought the existing noise problem with OHVs was common knowledge. I'm sorry you've had difficult experiences with trucks but I don't think there will be much of an improvement in that situation if you legalize OHVs while it seems likely that the existing OHV noise problem will get worse, especially if the police are reluctant to and/or unable to enforce the noise provisions. Therefore it still seems to me that the only responsible way forward is to take care of the existing noise enforcement problem before passing a law that will likely make the noise problem worse. Otherwise it seems that you are trying to make your own life a tiny bit better by making my life significantly worse. For you, problems with inconsiderate truck drivers are real. For me, noise (and other) problems with inconsiderate OHV riders are real.

From my perspective until we know the enforcement problem has actually been solved, the best way to keep OHV noise down is to continue banning them from our streets and roads so the police don't need sound equipment and don't need to take sound measurements in order to curb the problem. If OHVs are reasonably quiet and drive at a reasonable speed then I have absolutely no problem with them on our roads. But some of the OHVs riders seem to be intentionally disruptive when they scoff the law and ride on our roads with excessive noise and speed. I have zero confidence that the provisions in your new law will keep this problem in check. I say fix the existing problems before you create new ones.


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:07 am 
Yesterday the Commission passed an Ordinance allowing the use of Recreational Off-road Vehicles on paved county roads under certain conditions a bit stricter than state law. The vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Ramos absent. The county attorney is preparing the final draft based on amendments we made at the meeting, so I don't have the exact text for followers of this thread, but I can describe the changes we made.

First, we added the word "paved" in front of "street or highway" whenever that phrase appeared to emphasize that the provisions of the ordinance only apply on paved roadways.

We removed the requirement that adults wear safety helmets when operating an ROV on paved county roads, since this requirement isn't in state statute. Minors must still wear safety helmets, and all operators must still wear eye protection.

We changed the requirement for a "motor vehicle safety permit" to "an off-highway motor vehicle safety education card issued by the NM Department of Game and Fish." This is because there is no organization that offers a "motor vehicle safety permit" to adult operators of ROVs. Minors must still obtain such a permit, in addition to the safety education card. None of us was satisfied with the safety education card as meeting our needs, but it was the closest thing we could find; state legislation will be needed to create a fully appropriate class and permit.

We deleted the prohibition of driving on or within an earthen tank. No paved county roads go on or in earthen tanks, so we felt the prohibition was silly.

We changed the prohibition of driving "near or within residential areas between 8pm and 8am" to "within 200 yards of a residence other than that of the ROV owner." We felt the former phrase was unenforceably vague.

The draft ordinance required a minor who wished to operated an ROV on paved county roads to be "visually supervised at all times by a parent, legal guardian, or a person over the age of 18 who has a valid driver's license." We changed the minimum age of the supervising adult from 18 to 21. Based on this change, and on the assumption that it's not really possible to go anywhere without carrying the visually supervising person as a passenger, we deleted the prohibition on minors carrying passengers.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me think about this question!

By the way, the Undersheriff answered my question about the ordinance's potential impact on his department's enforcement duties by saying he thought on net that it would make things easier for law enforcement, not harder. I was skeptical and asked him to explain. He said that now, legal OHV operators will just pull over rather than speeding away when signaled to do so by an officer. This will reduce the need to chase some of the drivers they would now find themselves chasing. I find this quite hard to believe, but thought y'all should know how he responded to my question.

I have a couple of lingering questions for BitJam: (1) What percentage of the excess noise coming from OHVs would you say is caused by ROVs (side-by-sides), as opposed to ATVs or other illegal OHVs?
(2) Do you live within Silver City? You mentioned that the mayor was with you and that police enforcement was problematic. If you do live within the city, this ordinance doesn't apply to your immediate surroundings. Is your concern that it will make your life significantly worse based on living near the county? Or because you believe the change in county law will embolden OHVers to break the law more often in town? (Or both, I suppose.) Overall, I believe my support for some sort of OHV ordinance helped the Commission craft a better law than it would otherwise have passed. But I'm very interested in preventing the law from making people's lives worse, so I'd like a better understanding of your situation.


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 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:18 pm 
Harry -- I regret that the Commission passed this ordinance, although it does appear to have been improved in some ways. Regarding your question to me about the prohibitions that reflect a concern for agricultural activities, see below:

"(5) in pursuit of or harassment of livestock in any manner that negatively affects the livestock’s condition;

(7) on or within an earthen tank or other structure meant to water livestock or wildlife, unless the off-highway motor vehicle is on a route designated by the landowner or land management agency as an off-highway motor vehicle route;
(8) in a manner that has a direct negative effect on or interferes with persons engaged in agricultural practices;
(9) in excess of ten miles per hour within two hundred feet of a business, animal shelter, horseback rider, bicyclist, pedestrian, livestock or occupied dwelling..."

It sounds like #7 may have been deleted, but I presume the other items are still in there. I'm not arguing against their inclusion -- people shouldn't used mechanized vehicles to harass livestock or otherwise mess with farms/ranches. But they shouldn't use such vehicles to tear up trails and related areas that have been declared off limits for them either. You suggest the fact that the county doesn't own Forest Service or Town trails means such a prohibition is unnecessary. But county roads do LEAD to Forest or town trails, and are in fact used to gain access to them by OHVs and ATVs. Just as the ordinance bans harassment of livestock or "agricultural practices" -- both of which would presumably happen on private or leased Federal land -- it should ban misuse of the vehicles on FS, BLM or Town property that contain trails or related recreational areas. If one is redundant and unnecessary, so is the other, but I would argue that a new ordinance of this kind creates an opportunity to provide or reinforce socially beneficial rules involving the subject type of vehicle, so both types of prohibition should have been included. I wish you hadn't so quickly dismissed my suggestion.

Shelby


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 Author: samarpan
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:01 am 
Harry, thank you for your transparency, engagement, and clear commununication. I am glad I voted for you and feel well-represented.


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 Author: BigBird
PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:18 am 
Does anyone know if the "Public Forum" on this issue was ever advertised? I just learned of it the day of the Forum. A friend of mine checked the newspaper that same day and didn't see a notice for it.


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:04 am 
Very quietly, the second shoe is about to drop on this issue. On the agenda for Thursday's County Commission meeting (9 am, County Admin Bldg at 1400 Hwy 180 E) is approval/disapproval of "OHV Letter to the NM DOT." As so often happens, seeing this letter on our agenda was a surprise to me; we have had no discussion of this topic at commission meetings.

I plan to vote to disapprove the letter, but I don't know how Commissioner Billings feels about this, so I can't say which way the vote will go. I believe it is much too soon after approving the change in our own ordinance to reach any conclusion about the safety- and quality-of-life impacts of allowing ROV use on county roads. And without that conclusion, I believe we are risking people's lives and wellbeing in a rush to dramatically expand where ROVs can be used. Nobody will be severely hurt by waiting a couple of years to see how our ordinance is working out, and much confusion will result if we make this request and then, two years later, decide it is too dangerous and request the DOT change back to how it was before.

This letter would request that the state Department of Transportation allow Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (four-wheelers with side-by-side seating, seat belts, mirrors, lights, turn signals, horns, and license plates) on nine specified stretches of state highways. In three cases, the letter would request that speed limits be decreased to 45 mph to allow legal ROV usage (under state law, off-highway vehicles can only be allowed on roads and highways where the speed limit is 45 mph or less).

The nine stretches in the letter are:

NM 152 where the speed limit is already 45 mph - that is, for about a mile to the west of Hanover until just east of Hanover;

NM 356 from Hanover to Bayard city limits;

NM 35 from 152 all the way to NM 15 (this is one of the places where the speed limit would be reduced - from 55 mph for 3.5 miles);

NM 61 from 152 south to mile marker 9 (that's where Luna County juts out into the highway) (here again the speed limit would have to be reduced for a total of about five miles);

NM 15 from Silver City town limits all the way north to the Catron County line just past Gila Hot Springs (the stretch south of Sanctuary Rd is the third place where the speed limit would be reduced);

NM 211 all the way through Cliff and Gila from Hwy 180 and back to Hwy 180;

NM 293 from Cliff all the way to where the pavement ends (where OHVs are already allowed);

NM 153 from Gila north; and

NM 180 (which I believe is actually U.S. 180 - I'm not sure what the DOT's jurisdiction is there) through Buckhorn (I believe the speed limit is 45 mph for about a mile - that is the stretch that would be legal for ROVs).

The county would install "ROV Begin" and "ROV End" signs at each end of each stretch, according to the letter.

If someone can help me figure out how to attach a .pdf document, I'd be happy to post the map that accompanies the letter.

--Harry


Attachments:
File comment: Thanks, John, for fixing the attachment issue. Here's the proposed letter and a map showing the highway segments involved.
Copy of g. OHV Letter to New Mexico Department of Transportation.pdf [1.9 MiB]
Downloaded 77 times


Last edited by Harry Browne on Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:28 am 
Thanks for the info Harry, to post the pdf go to your post and click the reply button and enter a brief explanation the below the text field you'll see a "Choose File" button, click it and navigate to the file on your hard drive and choose it. Then click the "Add the file" button then place your curser below your brief explanation the click on the new button called "Place inline" then click submit.


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:38 pm 
John, when I go to post a reply, I see "Disable BBCode," "Do not automatically parse URLs," "Attach a signature," and "Notify me when a reply is posted." According to the FAQ, "Attachment permissions are granted on a per forum, per group, or per user basis. The board administrator may not have allowed attachments to be added for the specific forum you are posting in, or perhaps only certain groups can post attachments. Contact the board administrator if you are unsure about why you are unable to add attachments." Might that be the case in this forum?


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 Author: crow
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:57 pm 
'Harry, I think I've found the problem and fixed it so try again and if you still can't then email me the attachment and I'll post it.


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 Author: BigBird
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:54 am 
So the rest of us have to drive slower now to acommodate these "offroad" vehicles? Crazy. This is an expensive proposition too to change all of the road signs. Look at the insurance statistics - these vehicles are not safe on paved roads!!!!


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:16 pm 
OHV riders usually have to carry their OHVs on trailers to the sites where they want to ride. They can continue to do this. There is no need to change the speed limit or post signs. You'd have to be crazy to want to ride an OHV on a state highway anyway. If OHVs need to get from one nearby county road to another, they can ride for a very short distance on the shoulder. But slowing everyone down to accommodate a few is a bad idea. And this kind of letter should not be sent out on the authority of one commissioner.

Bruce


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 Author: Kevin B
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:49 pm 
Which commissioner drafted this letter?


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 Author: Harry Browne
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:35 pm 
Bruce, the letter would not be sent out on the authority of one commissioner. It will only be sent if a majority of the commission approves it. And it was the County Planning Director, Mischa Larisch, who drafted the letter, I believe, probably with help from the county attorney. The commission chairman, Brett Kasten, is the signer of the litter, and he and Gabe Ramos have made clear in commission meetings this is their goal. Today at our work session, Alicia Edwards and I expressed our opposition. Commissioner Billings said he had some questions.


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 Author: upcountry
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:50 am 
This is a can of worms that never should have been opened. I can think of no reason for this issue to have even been brought up.


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 Author: Kevin B
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:39 pm 
It seems to me the basic purpose of this proposal is to overcome the lack of suitable ROV routes in areas of Grant County served by State roads. As the letter to the NMDoT puts it, "Most of the areas do not have enough of a shoulder if one at all to allow for safe operation of the ROV from one trail system to another."

So instead of compromising the use of these roads effecting all motorists, why not fix the problem with the inadequate shoulders, starting with a cost analysis of exactly what and where the shoulders need to be improved. Then get busy finding the necessary money and hire local firms to do the necessary work. That way we'd end up improving to our local employment statistics and improve our roadway network, a far better outcome than throttling the roads we have now so a minority of residents can drive around in their ROV's as the Commission seems intent on. Along the way, since it's likely that project would take a few years to implement we'd have an opportunity to see how the newly allowed ROV use on County roads is working out.

In truth I find some of the identified roads hair raising to drive in a car for the same reason, no shoulders, particularly along some sections of Highway 15. If that problem were fixed our roads would be safer for everyone and solve the ROV use problem. Sure we'd be asking our Commissioners to do more work, we'd be asking them to take a progressive leadership stance toward addressing an identified problem the right way rather than the cheap patch together quick easy way. However, if this letter were instead titled, "An initiative to improve the safety of State roads in Grant County", it would likely garner more support from the voting public. At least I'd be more inclined to agree with it.


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:15 pm 
Let's get real with some examples. On Highway 15 there are several roads that OHV riders might like to use. Let's take three of them: Signal Peak, Meadow Creek, and Sheep Corral. I certainly don't want OHV riders driving all the way from Silver City to Signal Peak on Highway 15. They should take their OHV there on a trailer or truck. And in fact, I often see trucks (sometimes with trailers) parked at this type of road along state highways. I assume they are parked there because they brought OHVs, and that's fine.

Should an OHV rider be able to ride on Highway 15 from Signal Peak road to Meadow Creek road? I don't know the distance exactly, but it's probably less than two miles along a very windy road where nobody sane would drive faster than the top speed of an OHV. The distance to Sheep Corral is farther and less winding. On the other hand, if you brought your OHV to Signal Peak on a trailer, you could take it to the next road on the trailer.

Or should we expand the shoulder on Highway 15 so that you could drive between these roads? Anybody who has driven there knows that expanding the shoulder around the hairpin turns and steep slopes would be a major task and a major expense. I don't think it's necessary, a good idea, or worth the expense just to support OHVs. Everyone knows Highway 15 is a special road with special risks. Don't drive it whatever your vehicle if you can't handle that.

There may be some examples of state highways where expanding the shoulder or changing the speed limit (and adding signs) might be justified, but the changes proposed in the letter are far too broad. You should only make changes where residents in the area request it and make a good case for their proposals.

Bruce


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 Author: Kevin B
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:36 pm 
"You should only make changes where residents in the area request it and make a good case for their proposals."

Well that's what I thought when this first came up about allowing ROV's on County Roads. Instead the Commission railroaded it through while we were still talking about it, heck most people didn't even know it was under discussion, a lot of people still don't know it's been passed.

And for sure I agree about the expense, hairpin turns, and the nature of 15, but I'd rather see the Commission tackle those challenges and take the time to study and review the alternatives than ram this next bit of legislation through the way they did the last one.


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 Author: Bruce
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:49 pm 
I agree, Kevin. I thought the reason for even discussing this is that some ranchers who use OHVs requested it. But it seems the idea has taken on a life of its own. If you get one foot in the door, nobody can close the door.

Bruce


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 Author: Donna Stevens
PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:53 am 
I attended the Grant County Commission meeting this morning. The motion to send a letter to the NM Dept. of Transportation requesting authorization for OHVs to drive on certain state highways passed, 3-2, with Commissioners Browne and Edwards voting against it. In the public comment period, I spoke against passing this motion, saying that we should err on the side of caution and wait until we've assessed the public safety impacts of OHVs on county-maintained roads. One other local resident also spoke against this motion.

I am going to see if I can find out how NM DOT makes such a decision. I will report back on what I learn, if anything.

Donna Stevens
Upper Gila Watershed Alliance


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 Author: sh1
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:53 pm 
Thanks for the update, Donna, and thanks to Alicia Edwards and Harry Browne for standing up against this rather amazing bit of legislation to favor the few over the many. Let's hope DOT pushes back, but I don't have a lot of faith in that.

For those who are fussy about the inconvenience generated by our hosting of the Tour of the Gila, please note that if DOT approves, most of the routes of the TOG will now be subject to lower speed limits and the presence of slow and unsafe ROVs all year, not just for five days in April. Slowing the trip to the Cliff Dwellings will negatively effect tourists trying to reach our most important tourist draw, and slowing NM 15, 35, 61, and 211 will affect the daily drives of a large number of Grant County citizens.

And this inconvenience will pale in significance compared to the likely increase in accidents and highway deaths caused by the use of these highways by "OFF HIGHWAY vehicles," which are explicitly not built for such use.

Shelby


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