The Board of Josephine County Commissioners had its shortest meeting of the year at its weekly business session.
Clocking in at under 10 minutes, the Oct. 19 BCC meeting contained only one discussion of note, which was brought up during requests and comments from citizens.
“Our agenda is brief,” remarked Vice Chair Darin Fowler, filling in at the head of the dais for an absent Chair Herman Baertschiger, at the start of the meeting. “So we’ll start out with requests and comments from citizens.”
Paul Shapiro used his three minutes to discuss Oregon state laws regarding UTVs.
Nationwide Insurance has an informational web page defining UTVs, and contrasting them with ATVs, commonly known as all-terrain vehicles: “Utility Terrain Vehicles, or UTVs, are built and used more for work than recreation. They are large, powerful, able to seat passengers side by side, and built with lots of storage space. They’re commonly used to haul equipment and supplies in locations that make using a truck impractical or impossible.
“UTVs have a lot of storage space. Most known for hauling feed, hay, and supplies on farms, they are becoming more popular within non-agricultural communities. They’re not uncommon at schools, where they’re used to transport water jugs, sports equipment and occasionally, athletes.”
Read more about the differences between UTVs and ATVs here: www.nationwide.com/lc/resources/powersports/articles/difference-between-atv-utv.
According to Shapiro, “As of January 2022, there are six counties that allow UTVs for on-road use.” The only of these that allow UTV use on all roads, Shapiro said, is Grant County, but Baker, Lake and Union allow for UTV use on all roads except highways, and Klamath and Douglas have certain types of roads UTVs can be implemented on.
Shapiro claimed that the state of Oregon allows municipalities to pass their own ordinances regarding how UTVs can be used, and he petitioned the commissioners to look into passing a UTV-related ordinance in Josephine County.
Commissioner Dan DeYoung responded, “I’m interested in this,” but went on to point out that the counties Shapiro mentioned are heavily rural. Shapiro himself noted that highways in Lake County were paved to accommodate UTV use for farming purposes.
DeYoung said he’d like to find out if there are specific criteria UTVs would need to meet to be road-ready.
“I’m willing to look into it,” said DeYoung. “See if it could happen, and what it would take to see that it happens.”
Fowler pointed out that he sees farmers using tractors near his home on Lower River Road, and expressed interest in exploring the idea of allowing UTVs to be used in a similar manner.
No concrete action was taken regarding UTVs at the session, but both attending commissioners said they would talk with Shapiro further following the end of the meeting.
To read more about the state of Oregon’s stance on UTVs, visit www.oregon.gov/oprd/ATV/Pages/ATV-Classifications.aspx