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City reviews ATV ordinances, request to include larger machines

Morris residents are seeking to add larger All Terrain Vehicles -- sometimes known as side-by-sides -- to a 2008 city ordinance allowing the use of the vehicles on some city streets.

The Morris City Council, city manager, city attorney and police chief are researching the issue and are expected to bring it back before the council soon. The council heard comments from Morris resident Denny Fuhrman, who has researched laws in other cities, City Attorney Charles Glasrud and Chief of Police Jim Beauregard and City Manager Blaine Hill.

The city passed an ordinance in August 2008 allowing ATV and golf cart use on some streets.

Fuhrman and other proponents of the larger, Class 2 ATVs, say they are built to be safer, with seat belts and roll bars. But Glasrud stated that Minnesota law currently prohibits their use within cities. He and Beauregard said the Minnesota Legislature needs to address laws governing ATV use since some regulations appear to contradict others.

Fuhrman noted that when the city's original ordinance was passed, Class 2 ATVs were in their infancy. Now, however, the Class 2s represent a significant share of ATV sales nationwide.

Council members Jeff Miller and Bill Storck said they approve of including Class 2s in the ordinance if it can be accomplished within the law.

"I'd love to see it work," Miller said. "We'll keep digging into it and see what we can work out."

In other city business:

•The city has approved one-year agreements with the General and Public Works units of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The agreements call for a wage freeze at 2010 levels but that step increases will be paid when appropriate. Employees will be allowed to bank more vacation and sick time than previously and that changes to health insurance policies were changed to increase benefits for those on family coverage.

Hill said that since the agreements are for this year alone, negotiations on 2012 contracts will begin soon.

•The city is finishing work on a first zoning of a 1/2-mile of land around the Morris city limits. The process began a few years ago when the city annexed segments of land just outside its existing limits.

An April meeting will be scheduled at the Morris Area High School to review the zoning process and gather information from residents.

Hill said that, in answer to concerns heard among some in the community, that the city is not expecting to annex any more land, and that the annexation agreement spells out how far the city's authority extends beyond its municipal limits.