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ATV Access on County Highways in Presque Isle a Step Closer

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Allowing ATV’s on county highways in the town of Presque Isle moved a step closer after the county highway committee rejected a motion to table any action and then approved asking the full county board to approve allowing ATV/UTV travel on those portions of Highways W, B, P and M in Presque Isle.

Vilas Highway commissioner Troy Schalinske indicated he “received a request from the Presque Isle town chairman and it was put on this meeting agenda.”

Committee member Supervisor Chuck Hayes, who represents the Presque Isle/Winchester area, indicated he felt the request was interpreted in error.

“Many topics are requested by town boards and the assumption was made this request by the (Presque Isle) town board was for the people of the town but the material you have here today calls that into question,” Hayes said, referring to a number of letters in opposition to the proposal. “In my opinion the (town) ordinance was rushed into play by the town board and does not reflect due diligence.”

A number of Presque Isle landowners present were against the proposal, and some were in favor.

Highway Committee chairman Willy Otterpohl stated this was a committee meeting and not a public hearing, however, he indicated he would allow one person against and one person in favor to address the committee.

Former municipal judge Robert Berdan indicated the “width of Highway P was not safe for ATV’s, bikers, or pedestrians” and the present bike routes are “away from the road except for Presque Isle” asking it to be sent to the town ordinance committee for action.

Resident Steve Diwig indicated the board chose to draft the ordinance on their own saying “it is clear to me Presque Isle will not become a destination for ATV’s but a means to get to U.P. trails.” He continued by saying he didn’t think there would be “hordes of ATV’s” in Presque Isle. “This is just another means of transportation to go from one neighbor to another.”

Supervisor Hayes wanted to make two points; there was no recommendation from the Forestry Committee and there is a current survey of Presque Isle residents on ATV’s due by August 31. He the made a motion to table until the survey was completed.  It did not receive a second and the motion died.

A motion to forward a resolution to the August county board meeting for action was approved 5-1 with Hayes voting against and county board chairman Ron DeBruyne also voting in favor since he is an ad hoc member of all county committees.

Under public comments at end of the agenda, Margaret Wiessner supported the committee vote to have the full county board take action, saying “what you did is a step in the right direction.”

Rich Schmalzer also approved the committee action to send this to the full county board. He indicated there were two groups with two different views and one group “shouts louder and writes letters and gives verbal abuse.” But he felt what was “most disappointing was Supervisor Hayes representing only one side when he was elected to represent people on both sides.”

Steve Diwig indicated they have formed an ATV club and have 65 members and growing. “In other areas of the county where ATV travel was implemented it really didn’t cause problems, but we’re open to ideas and if there are problems, we’ll address them.”

The full county board’s next meeting is August 24.

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