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UTVs okay on ECC trails, gunplay won't be allowed

Sun Advocate associate editor

Citing the ever-growing size of Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) as well as several hunting issues, the East Carbon City Council moved last Tuesday to amend the town's Off Road Trail ordinance. Working to keep a Hooverville from springing up just south of town, officials will also be makings changes to camping laws within the city.

According to East Carbon Attorney Jeremy Humes, the town's All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) or UTV ordinance was developed in 2009. It was brought before the council during the city's May 6 meeting at the request of town compliance officer Shawn Sackett, as he has had several residents question him concerning both the city's trails and campgrounds.

The ordinance Humes provided the council with limited the town's official trails to UTVs 50 inches wide and smaller, a limitation that caught the eye of council member and city police Sergeant Phillip Holt.

"Most side-by-side machines are at least 50 inches if not bigger, he said during the May 6 council session. "Do we not allow the side by side machines on our trails? Everyone has a side-by-side these days it seems, and I would hate to have an ordinance that keeps them off our trails."

Currently, the city has no restrictions about how wide an ATV is on their trails. Council member David Maggio commented that the 50 inch designation was placed in the ordinance because of a U.S. Forest Service rule that was put in place to keep full size, road-legal vehicles off of their trails.

"I think if we amend our policy to allow UTV side-by-sides but keep all street legal vehicles off the trail we will be in good shape," continued Holt.

Humes commented that he would check the Bureau of Land Management's policies to make sure they didn't have a 50 inch designation and then modify the East Carbon ordinance to allow for wider side-by-side machines.

The other question brought forward by the council involved individuals hunting from the trail with either rifles or other projectile weapons. Council member Holt stated that he had already posted signs along the trail that prohibited shooting but was still concerned.

"Is that something that we need to mention in this ordinance as well?," he asked of Humes. "Or is that already taken care of because of the shooting within city limits laws?"

According to the city's attorney, it would be advantageous to add the language to the ordinance for extra protection, as laws involving firearms can never be to redundant.

"I agree," stated council member Maggio. "The major problem there is that you get these guys shooting from the trail and they have no idea who is riding directly across from them. It's just not safe."

As the council agreed on the changes to the ATV ordinance, they also addressed some issues Officer Sackett had been running into at the town's campgrounds.

"I have to ask, if a person sets up camp at one of our local campgrounds, how long can they stay?," asked Sackett. "And if I ask them to leave can they then move from campsite A to campsite B and stay for another 30 days?"

According to the East Carbon Compliance Officer, the ordinance's current language deals with separate campsites rather than the campground as a whole. Wording that almost led to a permanent resident at one of the town's recreational grounds.

"They have 30 days period," said East Carbon Mayor Doug Parsons. "It's 30 days in the campground and then they have to be gone for 30 days before they can come back."

East Carbon officials have been working through a plethora of ordinance changes since the beginning of the year as the new city hustles to make two town code books into one.

The city attorney will now amend both the camping and ATV/UTV Trail ordinances for review at the town's next public meeting on May 20.

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