OWOSSO — A new rule allowing all types of off-road vehicles on city streets instead of only golf carts has been approved by Owosso City Council members, but just barely, with those opposed citing safety concerns.
Following a public hearing Monday, council OK’d allowing ORVs on streets — subject to restrictions — by a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Sue Osika, and council members Daniel Law and Robert Teich opposing the amendment.
“I believe that ORVs, with their ability to go so fast, are not safe in a town our size,” Osika said.
The motion included changing the allowed hours for operating ORVs, and adding a requirement that ORVs be equipped with a rear-view mirror.
The new rule takes effect Aug. 9.
Osika said her vote was persuaded Monday partly by Public Safety Director Kevin Lenkart, who told council members his department has safety and enforcement concerns about allowing ORVs in a city of 15,000 people.
Council member Jerry Haber said he believes ORV owners put a lot of money into them and will be careful in order to protect them. They are a preferred form of transportation for many, Haber said.
“But most of all, I’ve just got to believe that our citizens will obey the law,” he said.
Last month council members, including Osika, voted to allow golf carts on some city streets during specified times. She pointed out ORVs can travel between 40 and 60 mph, while golf carts top out at 25 mph.
The new rule puts a 25 mph speed limit on all ORVs.
Law, the sole vote against allowing golf carts, said in his view ORVs belong in a country setting, not in a city.
During the public hearing, resident Mike Schutt said he supported allowing ORVs but suggested requiring them to have rear-view mirrors.
Council members added language requiring that ORVs be “equipped with at least one mirror securely mounted and positioned on the ORV in such a manner to be able to clearly view traffic approaching from behind.”
The proposed hours of operation for ORVs were changed to conform to the hours listed in the golf cart rule.
In 2014, the state added a section to the Michigan Vehicle Code allowing for limited and regulated use of golf carts and ORVs on public streets.
Under the amended state vehicle code, local units of government can permit golf carts and ORVs on streets with certain restrictions.
The cities of Perry, Laingsburg, Corunna, Ovid and Durand, the village of Chesaning, and townships throughout Shiawassee County allow off-road vehicles on local streets, with limitations.