With less than a month until going into effect, county officials are making preparations for the new all-terrain and off-highway vehicle ordinance and they're asking community residents to prepare for it as well.
The ordinance, which allows properly marked ATVs and OHVs to be operated on gravel roads within Webster County, will take effect Nov. 11. It was approved by the Webster County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 3.
Sheriff Jim Stubbs said there are several rules that ATV and OHV riders have to abide by to be within the boundaries of the law.
"They have to be at least 16 years old and they must be a licensed driver," Stubbs said. "Young children can't ride them."
People who ride such vehicles must have proof of insurance with them at all times, and each ATV or OHV must bear a license plate, which can be purchased at the Webster County recorder's office.
Recorder Judy Cosgrove said each plate is assigned to a specific vehicle. The plates cannot be taken from one ATV and placed on another, and they must be on the back of the vehicle.
At a glance
Motorized vehicle with at least three, but not more than six, "non-highway" tires.
Engine displacement of less than 1,000 cubic centimeters
Dry weight of less than 1,200 lbs.
Must have handlebars and a seat or saddle "designed to be straddled by the operator."
Motorized vehicle with at least four, but not more than eight, "non-highway" tires or rubberized tracks.
Engine displacement of less than 1,500 cubic centimeters
Dry weight of less than 2,000 lbs.
Must have a steering wheel or control levers and a bucket or bench seat not meant "to be straddled by the operator."
Portion of highway designed or used for vehicular travel.
To read the entire ordinance, go to the Webster County website at www.webstercountyia.org and click on Recorder, then click on registrations.
"They can buy three or four of them if they have that many vehicles," Cosgrove said. "They need one plate for each."
Plates will be available at the recorder's office beginning Tuesday.
"We want people to get in and start renewing before November and December," she said. "That way we won't have everybody coming in at the same time."
Even though they can be licensed prior to Nov. 11, ATVs and OHVs can't be legally driven on roadways until that date, Cosgrove said.
The ordinance limits on-road usage of ATVs and OHVs to gravel roads, bu Stubbs said it does allow people to drive on paved roads as long as it's within a "reasonable distance."
"That term is there for a reason, because not everything is a mile away," Stubbs said. "It doesn't mean you can travel for five miles on the pavement."
Vehicles used by farmers are exempt from the ordinance, he said.
"The ordinance does not affect them," Stubbs said. "They can do no more or no less than what they can do now."
It also doesn't affect the Gypsum City OHV Park, located just outside of Fort Dodge. Stubbs said all of its rules will remain the same.
This ordinance, he said, is intended to give law-abiding ATV/OHV riders a chance to use their vehicles.
"It's an opportunity for them to use their OHV or ATV a little more to its fullest extent," Stubbs said. "It gives the law-abiding people a chance to enjoy more opportunities."
But after it goes into effect, if there are numerous violations, the ordinance will be given another look.
"If it creates a problem, the ordinance can be rescinded just as fast as it was adopted," Stubbs said. "It's not set in stone and it's not something that can never be reversed. It's a privilege, not a right."
He said the ordinance is also subject to change.
"It's in its infancy stage," he said. "There might be something in the ordinance six months from now that gets readdressed. I'm not saying the whole ordinance will be null and void, but there are some parts that we might be taking another look at."