OURAY - The Ouray City Council agreed last week that Off-Highway Vehicles licensed in other states should no longer be permitted to operate on city streets.
The city’s code, in keeping with state statute, has never explicitly allowed OHVs to operate on city streets – even those from states that, unlike Colorado, do legally license them. However, after a 2002 district court case in Hinsdale County recognized that licensed OHVs from other jurisdictions met state criteria for recognition as licensed vehicles, a number of Colorado towns including Ouray began allowing licensed OHVs from other states to operate within their jurisdiction.
The discrepancy created confusion for law-enforcement officers, who found themselves having to verify whether a vehicle was licensed in another state before stopping it on city streets. Local OHV enthusiasts, meanwhile, complained of a double standard, as they observed OHV operators from other states driving around town, yet were not permitted to do so themselves.
At last week’s council meeting, City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli informed council that the city was mistaken in its interpretation of the Hinsdale County court case. “All of us have been looking at it incorrectly,” Rondinelli said. “It is a ruling specific to Lake City and does not apply to anywhere else.”
In essence, he said, “If you don’t want to allow OHVs on your streets, you don’t have to.”
Councilors took this as welcome news, and directed police to uniformly enforce the city code whether or not an OHV is licensed elsewhere.
The code states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to operate an off‐highway vehicle on any City street, alley, or other city‐owned property” except for agricultural purposes and other limited, defined exceptions.
Councilors acknowledged that their decision may create a bit of a backlash from out-of-state OHV enthusiasts, but agreed that it was worth it, for the sake of consistency.
“I just don’t see any sense in having them buzz around town,” Councilor John Ferguson said.
Per city code, electric golf carts can still operate on city streets,as they fall under a separate set of laws than those governing the use of OHVs in Colorado.
While the issue of whether or not to allow OHVs to operate in neighboring Silverton has sharply divided that community, it appeared to be a relative non-issue at last Monday’s Ouray City Council meeting; no community members attended the meeting to voice their feelings on the matter, and council dispatched with the issue in less than 10 minutes.
On a related matter, council agreed that OHVs involved with snow removal should be allowed to continue to operate in town in the winter, and instructed staff to draft an amendment to the code to permit them to do so legally.
CULVERT REPLACEMENT ON PINE CREST ROAD
Council unanimously approved allocating $35,000 to replace the culvert in Oak Creek on South Pinecrest. A significant flash flood event on Aug. 28 damaged the culvert and roadway. Most of the funding for this project will come from the General Fund and a $25,000 line item identified for drainage improvements, out of which only $2,000 has been spent so far. Work is slated to begin this month, and will be coordinated with residents in the neighborhood to the south of the damaged culvert, as it will require closure of the roadway.