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ATV route idea gaining traction

The Apple River Riders ATV Club is working hard to establish a route so all-terrain vehicles can legally operate on some roads in St Croix and Polk counties.

Barry Kunze, a member of the club, stopped by the Star Prairie Village Board meeting Aug. 7 to request that the community consider allowing ATVs to use certain streets to get through the village.

Kunze said the Town of Alden in Polk County has already approved a route.

Kunze has also approached the Town of Stanton about a route through that township. A Sept. 18 public hearing has been scheduled in the Town of Stanton to gather input from residents and officially consider the ATV route idea.

Kunze reported that he will also be working with the Town of Cylon and the Village of Deer Park in the coming weeks to further develop a route through much of the northern part of the county.

Star Prairie Village Board members seemed comfortable with the plan of having ATVs use certain village streets.

"I suppose we better hear what the public has to say first," Village President Greg Gibson said.

The board voted unanimously to conduct a public hearing on the proposal at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11.

The proposed route in Star Prairie would enter the village from the north on Fifth Street, follow a trail on private land, pick up Fourth Street. ATVs would head east on Mill Avenue, until First Street where they would head north to County Road M. If the route is approved, the ATVs would then head up to the old school house and take a right through the village ballfield area. They would take a short jog on County Road H to Aaron. The route would then use private land to get ATVs to the convenience store on the south edge of town.

In an interview after the meeting, Kunze said the club has been working for three years to establish an ATV route that starts in Star Prairie and runs to Amery to the east and East Farmington to the west. The goal is to connect with the Cattail Trail in Amery, which is open to ATV operators.

"It's been a long process. We've got it all planned out," he said. "We just need everyone to approve it."

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In other business:

-- Star Prairie officials seem prepared to take advantage of upcoming road work to upgrade a portion of County Road M that lies within the community. In 2014, St Croix County is planning to replace the Apple River bridge along County Road M. In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will upgrade Highway 65 which runs through the heart of the village.

While the projects are welcomed, according to board members, a 200-foot section of road between Highway 65 and the new bridge will remain in tough shape if nothing is done.

St. Croix County would apparently chip in to repave County Road M in that section, but the village would be responsible for installing curb, gutter and sidewalks.

Angela Popenhagen, with Stevens Engineering, said that the cost of the project could be assessed to the adjoining landowners. She said an estimated assessment could be about $40 per lineal foot. She said she'd return in September with more specific assessment projections.

-- The Village Board approved the expenditure of up to $500 to apply for St. Croix River Crossing mitigation funds for several proposed projects in the community. The village will pursue grant funds for the addition of a sewage treatment seepage cell and for the possible purchase of property in town. Deadline for the grant applications is Sept. 1.

-- The board tabled action on a proposed amendment to its existing noise and nuisance ordinance. The amendment would establish maximum decibel levels for noise in the community, unless a resident or business is granted a variance for specific events or gatherings. Village Attorney Tim Scott said he is recommending the change because it would establish an "objective standard" for measuring excessive noise. The change is necessary, Scott reported, because of a recent lawsuit that the city of Hayward recently lost. Scott said he would bring the proposal back to the board in September after making a few revisions and checking on a few things.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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