ATVs allowed in Newport in 2020 for trial period

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NEWPORT CITY, Vt. (WCAX) ATVs will be allowed in Newport in 2020 after the City Council approved an ordinance on Monday.

The council voted 3-1 in favor of a five-month ATV trial period that is set to last from May to October. During that time, ATV riders are permitted to drive on town highways.

Monday’s discussion was the council’s third and final debate on the matter.

Newport Mayor Paul Monette led the meeting and said he was pleased with the outcome. He believes allowing ATVs will help attract visitors and will boost Newport’s economy.

“I’m looking at bringing more people to town. If you look at all the trailers coming up on weekends with ATVs and in the wintertime, snow machines, I just see this as a boost to bring more people to town,” said Monette. “You have to think outside the box and try new things.”

The majority of people in the room were in favor of the measure and said they’re excited to prove themselves as responsible ATV riders.

“I feel ATV riders are going to respect the opportunity that we’ve been given and they’re going to follow the rules of the road that we’ve been asked to do. And I do feel they’re going to be respectful when they’re within the city,” said Scott Jenness, the president of the Borderline ATV Club.

Opponents of the ordinance said they are worried ATVs are too loud and too dangerous. They also expressed concerns that the roads can’t handle the vehicles and riders will speed.

Monette told WCAX News he’s not too worried that will be an issue.

“I had concerns but I do value, as far as the law enforcement side, I value the judgment of the chief of police. He’s the expert,” Monette said. “As far as noise, I mean, you have motorcycles that go through that are even louder than ATVs. Lawnmowers— my neighbor’s lawnmower is louder than ATVs.”

The ordinance states ATV riders are not allowed to race on the highways at any time and they must drive single file. They’re also required to give hand signals when turning or stopping.

ATVs are prohibited from be driven on public property including sidewalks or bike paths. Anyone on an ATV, whether a driver or passenger, must wear a helmet that is approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

All ATV operators must have a valid driver’s license and their ATV must be registered with the state of Vermont.

According to Monette, if the trial does not go well, they can end it at any time.