Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 16, 2004

Snowmobilers, ATV drivers have Montrose council seeing red

By David Cox

Snow blanketed the region in white and brought smiles to snowmobilers, but misuse of the machines by some has residents and members of the Montrose city council seeing red.

"Snowmobiles and ATVs are covered by a city ordinance. If anyone sees someone riding a snowmobile on city sidewalks, they need to call the sheriff's office and report it," Mayor Charlie Nelson said during the council meeting last Monday.

The council members discussed possible ways to enforce the ordinance that prohibits use of snowmobiles on city sidewalks.

"I can tell you from personal experience that reporting these people isn't going to work," Council Member Jeff Mattson said, citing his efforts to report drivers who moved barriers and drove on closed roads during construction.

"Those machines can go 100 miles an hour. By the time the officer gets there, they will be long gone," Council Member Dave Nordschow observed.

"They have patrols on snowmobiles, and they are going to send them to wherever they get the most reports," Nelson said.

"You need to incorporate the neighborhood watch programs," Council Member Sharon Knodel said.

The council considered installing additional signs to notify snowmobilers about the city ordinance, but Nelson pointed out that there are some signs up already.

"Most of these people have been through some kind of a snowmobile class," Nelson said. "They already know they are not supposed to ride on the sidewalks."

The council also discussed a letter that Nelson proposed to include in the newsletter.

One of the subjects of the letter was a city survey that Nelson proposed at the last council meeting.

"I still feel strongly that the council needs to work on public relations. I'm not sure a survey is the right thing. A lot of citizens have already told us what their concerns are. Communication is the big issue," Knodel said.

"A survey would be part of that communication," Nelson replied.

"This is putting the cart before the horse. We don't have a survey, we don't have a plan for a survey. We shouldn't announce it until we have a survey ready," Nordschow said.

Mattson clarifies vote

Mattson voted against a resolution which objected to Wright County's stance on the Monticello Township annexation issue with the City of Monticello.

His reasons for voting no were not noted in the story.

"The county board oversees planning and zoning in the townships. That is the county's responsibility. The county is stepping in to ask why 11,000 acres is necessary," Mattson said.

"Townships do not have the resources to protect themselves. Who will take care of the township if the county doesn't step in to help?" he asked.

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