Council Waves Green Flag To ATVs On Local Streets

By the time you are reading this, All Terrain Vehicles may be seen and heard cruising streets in Crothersville.
Last Tuesday, the Crothersville Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance permitting ATV’s, Off-Road Utility Vehicles and similar personal pleasure land vehicles to operate on town streets.
Drivers must possess a valid driver’s license, must obey all traffic laws, and the vehicle must be equipped with headlights, brake & tail lights and turn signals.
To operate legally on the town streets ATV’s must be registered annually with the local police department and display the town registration sticker.
The matter was not without some opposition.
Town Council President Ardell Mitchell said he had received an anonymous note and an anonymous forwarded text expressing opposition to the ordinance.
“But having received them anonymously, I could not contact them to hear what their specific concerns were,” said Mitchell.
Former town councilwoman Karen Mains then spoke up saying she opposed the ordinance because of the noise ATV’s would make at night.
“There’s a lot of children in the area where I live and I just don’t think they will be safe,” she said.
Resident Terry Whipple told the council that he had lived in the community of Linton, Indiana for six months and 4-wheelers were allowed to operate on the street.
“There were no problems with them. They weren’t any louder than a Harley Davidson motorcycle that already operate on the streets,” said Whipple.
A caution came from Chief of Police Richard Handlin. “It’s going to be a bit of a problem for us and I expect ATV’s on the streets will keep us really busy,” said Handlin. “But if it does pass, I am ready with applications for registration and registration permits.”
Councilman Derrick Minton, who introduced the new ordinance, originally estimated that 200 ATV’s would be registered to operate on town streets. He stuck by that prediction in voting for the measure.
What is yet to be decided is where the money from the $25 registration fee will be used. It was suggested that those funds could be placed in a non-reverting fund for police use.
A decision on that matter may be brought up at the council’s May meeting.
The complete ordinance can be found on page 5 of the Times print edition or as a .pdf on the Times website www.crothersvilletimes.com.
With early warm weather prompting local residents to begin mowing their lawns earlier that normal, Minton proposed a change to the town’s weed ordinance.
Currently when grass and weeds reach 12″ tall, letters can be sent to the property owner noting that the property is in violation on the town’s ordinance.
Minton said that by the time the letters are received if no action is taken by the owner the town must mow and by then the grass and weeds may be 15-18″ tall.
Minton wants to change the violation height to 6″.
“It could make the town’s mowing efforts more manageable,” said Mitchell.
The council will consider the matter at its May 1 meeting.
On a related issue, Mitchell noted that several properties in town are scheduled to be sold at a Commissioner’s Certificate Sale on Thursday, April 26.
The seven properties have gone through two tax sales for back property taxes but have gotten no bidders. The April 26 sale has a minimum bid of $200.
On many of those properties, the town has liens for mowing when the properties violated the local weed law.
If the properties sell for less than the taxes and liens owed, the town stands to lose out on its expenses in mowing the grass.
“When we mow we have to do so with our eyes open knowing we’re not going to get paid,” said Mitchell. “It’s a cost of doing business to keep the town looking neat.”
In a 2-1 vote, the council approved a $4 an hour raise to Chief of Police Richard Handlin to $16.
Councilmen Lenvel Robinson and Minton pushed for the measure saying that it was only fair that the chief be paid more for the increased responsibility of being the chief of police.
But Mitchell cautioned that the council is not sure of how an early salary increase will impact the current budget.
“We are handcuffed with our current budget and shouldn’t pass a salary ordinance which will overspend our budget,” said the council president. “Overtime is not calculated in and if we have a weather incident like they had in Henryville or a major crime which would increase overtime, it could bust our budget.”
After the 2-1 vote in which Mitchell cast the dissenting vote, he said one person making an extra $4 an hour can make a big difference in our town budget. “I agree with fairness but are we being responsible?” he questioned.
A discussion was held on the recently filed suit of Barbara Hall to quiet title of a short portion of Vine Street between Howard Street and an alley next to her property.
“The area in question is a platted but unpaved portion of Vine Street,” said Mitchell. “I believe it is ours. The town could contest the suit to retain ownership or we could vacate that portion of the street and property owners on each side would take half of it. I am not in favor of spending a lot of money on this matter.”
“All of the maps I have looked at it seems to be ours,” said Robinson. “I’m for closing it and letting each property owner get half.
Minton agreed with splitting the street between the two adjoining properties.
However, the council took no action awaiting Judge William Vance’s decision on whether the town owns the street.
In other matters:
•The town agreed to re-surface Howard Street from east of the stoplight to its intersection with Preston Street at the school.
The roadway will be ground down 11/2 inches and a new 11/2” layer of asphalt is to be added.
The town awarded to contract to All Star Paving of Seymour who submitted a bit of $23,735.30.
Also submitting bids were MAC Construction of New Albany at $26,348.34 and R&W General Contracting of Clarksville for $27,025.75.
•The date of the spring large trash pick up was set for May 8 for the area south of Howard Street and east of the Railroad; May 15 for the area north of Howard Street and east of the railroad; and May 22 for the portion of town west of the railroad.
No hazardous materials can be set out. No construction debris, no fence wire, no large appliances. All material must fit inside an area 4’x8’x4′.
The dates of the fall large trash pickup were also set for Oct. 16, 23, & 30.