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Village of Somerset approves ATV/UTV ordinance

Following several months of discussion and investigation, Somerset village trustees unanimously approved an ordinance permitting the use of a prescribed route by ATVs and UTVs to enter and exit the downtown area.

Members of the Public Safety Committee worked with members of the Somerset ATV Club over the course of the last several months to resolve jurisdictional issues on several of the roads proposed as part of the route as well as other restrictions including hours of operation.

As it turned out, proposed restrictions requiring riders to carry liability insurance and limiting hours of operation were stricken from the final ordinance.

With regard to the liability insurance issue, village attorney Anders Helquist suggested that the village would still be covered by state statute.

"Ultimately each rider is responsible for knowing where they are going and the ordinance requirements regardless of whether they are posted or not. That being said, it would be one of those items the municipality would need to enforce. We think that there is a strong argument to be made that general governmental immunity would apply in the event there was some lawsuit where someone wanted to blame the village for opening up portions of streets to such use," said Helquist.

Board President John Melvin reminded trustees that initially, the new ordinance goes into effect for just one year.

"Not to advocate for or against this, but one more point about this ordinance that I want to make sure everybody understands is that this has an effective period of one year. Kind of a trial period, so we can evaluate how the community sees it and how it impacts businesses positively or negatively. That is in the agreement," said Melvin.

Other business

• Public Works Supervisor Bob Gunther reported the search to replace Well #4 continues, unsuccessfully, although negotiations for access to potential sites are underway.

• Trustees approved a bid from Energenecs for $2,799 to replace a pump at the water treatment plant.

• Trustees approved a bid presented by Brenda Newman for $9,388.20 to replace the village hall phone system with a new communications system including high speed internet.

• Trustees approved a resolution authorizing "concert" pay rates of $47.01 per hour and $34.99 per hour for full-time and part-time police officers respectively for work at Amphitheater events.

• Trustees tabled a decision pertaining to raising the number of liquor licenses available to businesses for further review by the Public Safety Committee.

• Trustees approved the formation of an Economic Advisory Committee consisting of the village board chair, an additional board trustee, a community banker, a school board member or designee, a chamber member or designee, an industrial park owner, and a commercial business owner from the community. The new committee will replace the Industrial Park Committee.