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ATV track hits big bump in road to approval

Fri, Sep 19th, 2003
Posted in Features

For a while, it looked like a fast track to a fast track. A citizen, in this case Dave Clement, told a county commissioner, Randy Dahl, that he wanted to build a commercial ATV (all terrain vehicle, commonly known as 4-wheelers) course on the nearly 500-acre family farm in Carrolton Township (Carrolton Township is not in Mr. Dahls district). Just one problem, the zoning ordinance prohibits commercial ATV courses in the agriculture district. So, Commissioner Randy Dahl approached the planning commission and asked them to look at changing the ordinance so that Mr. Clement could pursue his endeavor. After listening to Commissioner Dahls request, the planning commission Chairman Mike Tuohy instructed Zoning Administrator Norm Craig to draft some ordinance change language that would allow ATV courses in the Ag district. That was on August 21. At last Thursday evenings meeting of the planning commission, Mr. Craig presented that new language and asked Commissioner Dahl and Mr. Clement to come to the table. During the discussion on Mr. Craigs new ordinance language, Mr. Craig stated that he and Commissioner Dahl had worked together to craft the language to allowing the ATV tracks. It is not known how much time Mr. Craig spent in drafting the proposed language. But at Thursdays meeting the planning commission spent about 20 minutes reviewing the language and asking questions of Mr. Clement. "Do you want to have snowmobiles, too?" asked Chairman Tuohy. "What about go-cartsif youre going to be a viable enterprise you dont want to limit yourself," added Mr. Tuohy. During a discussion on possible setback distances of the track to neighboring homes, planning commission member Steve Duxbury offered to Mr. Clement that he would probably want to have different tracks on the property so that his patrons wouldnt get bored riding the same trails. At one point, Commissioner Duane Bakke reminded the planners that they wouldnt be changing the ordinance just for Mr. Clement, that the law would apply to anyone, anywhere in the county, who wanted to build an ATV course."What would be the hours of operation?" asked commission member Jim Keune. "If I lived next to one of those tracks I wouldnt want to hear them early in the morning."After some discussion, Chairman Tuohy asked, "How about 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.?" For about the first 15 minutes of the discussion it appeared that Mr. Clement was finding himself in the most idyllic position a landowner could be inbeing asked how he would like to craft a new law that would allow him a land use that is currently prohibited in the zoning ordinance. Such customer service one might only expect to find at Burger King (Have it your way) or Wal-Mart. Both Mr. Dahl and Mr. Clement seemed pleased that the planning commission was so cooperative and accommodating in helping Mr. Clement to realize his dream. "Sure, I think opening at seven is fine with me," said a smiling Mr. Clement. And then Commissioner Duane Bakke spoke. "Im not in favor of this. You wont get a yes vote out of me no matter what you writenot tonight, not next week, not anytime," stated Mr. Bakke. "None of the people who live around that property want thisyou can open this can of worms, but not me."Following Commissioner Bakkes statement, Chairman Tuohy asked the planning commission if they had enough detail in the rules to have a public hearing on the ordinance change next month."Do I have a motion to go to public hearing?" Chairman Tuohy asked. But now there was only silence. Not even Mr. Duxbury put forth a motion."Well, I guess it dies for lack of a motion," stated Mr. Tuohy.As Mr. Craig began discussion on the next agenda item, a very surprised Mr. Clement and Commissioner Dahl got up and silently left the room.

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