This summer, wheeled all-terrain vehicles may be allowed on select county roads, but some agencies are concerned the vehicles may cause problems.
Cowlitz County is accepting comments on a proposed ordinance allowing wheeled ATVs on unincorporated county public roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. The comment period closes Monday.
Under state law, WATVs aren’t allowed on public roads within cities, counties or towns unless the local government approves them.
County Commissioner Dennis Weber said a group of citizens asked for the change. The sheriff’s office has recommended some roads in more urban areas to be designated as unsuitable for WATV use, he said.
The Castle Rock City Council, Mayor Paul Helenberg and Police Chief Scott Neves drafted a letter opposing the ordinance. The letter states the change will cause public confusion and require increased work for law enforcement.
The letter states the county needs to work with the cities to develop a countywide approach to address these concerns before the WATV proposal goes forward.
County Diking Engineer Patrick Harbison said the Consolidated Diking Improvement District No. 2 in Woodland and the Lexington Flood Control Zone District have also submitted letters of concern to the county. He said the the districts are worried that allowing the WATVs close to the levees will cause erosion.
Last week Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning determined the change would not negatively affect the environment.
After the comment period closes on Monday, county building and planning officials will review the comments and the ordinance with the commissioners, Senior Long Range Planner Greta Holmstrom said. The county will also hold a public hearing on the ordinance before the commissioners vote on it, she said.
Harbison said the county hasn’t taken the diking districts concerns into account yet because the comment period is still open.