Dubuque County officials tasked with drafting an ordinance for off-highway vehicles on county roads are debating the criteria for which roadways would be excluded.

During the committee’s meeting May 28, County Engineer Anthony Bardgett said he will prepare a preliminary list of roads that he would recommend excluding from ATV and UTV use, weighing such factors as traffic counts and crash history.

Committee members agreed that using set criteria will help justify those road decisions — both for the county’s liability and if citizens complain for or against them.

“I think when the day is done, according to the statute, the ultimate consideration is whether use on the roads that you would designate would unduly interfere with or constitute an undue hazard to conventional motor vehicle traffic,” County Attorney C.J. May III said of the legal responsibility. “That’s, at the end of the day, what you have to decide.”

The May 28 meeting was the first substantive one for the ATV/UTV Ordinance Committee.

It was created after county supervisors voted in April to move toward allowing more access for ATVs and UTVs on county roads. Right now, they are allowed on roads for agricultural purposes only.

Supervisor Chairman Dave Baker said May 28 that he would like to ensure there are routes connecting cities that allow some form of ATV/UTV traffic. Supervisor Ann McDonough said it also is important to keep officials from cities that don’t allow it in the loop for their enforcement efforts at their city limits.

Baker said the two criteria he sees for excluding roads are traffic volume and crash data. Some offhand examples he listed included Oakland Farm and Military roads, as well as Key West Drive.

Bardgett also said Sundown Road has a high traffic count and enough crashes to exclude it. Baker agreed but pointed out that the road sees considerably less traffic north of U.S. 20.

McDonough said she would like to see additional criteria, including the general curvature of certain roads.

“If we excluded every road with a curve, then we wouldn’t have an ordinance,” Baker said.

Dubuque County Conservation Board Executive Director Brian Preston said that board will not allow people to bring ATVs and UTVs to county parks and campgrounds.

“We’re extremely limited in parking, and we don’t foresee an advantage at all to opening the campgrounds (to them),” he said.

That prompted McDonough to ask if the availability of parking for non-local riders with trailers should be a factor in allowed roads as well.

Baker also pointed out examples of businesses who would like to see ATV and UTV riders come in and said he wanted to keep them in mind for route decisions. However, McDonough said county officials need to make safety the top priority in considering which roads are appropriate.

“We’re not going to be able to please all people,” she said.

Committee members also agreed to invite East Central Intergovernmental Association staff to their June 10 meeting in anticipation of entering into a contract with them to help research and draft an ordinance. McDonough previously received a proposal from ECIA charging up to $850 for their support.

McDonough told committee members that she believed ECIA would offer professional assistance that will help show the county’s thoroughness and mitigate liability issues.