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Citizens speak out against proposed ordinance
by Randy Parks
By a unanimous vote of the Burns City Council, an ordinance to allow ATVs on Burns city streets was denied.
After several residents had asked the council to consider allowing ATVs on the city streets, the council and City Manager (CM) Don Munkers drafted an ordinance for public review.
A public hearing to receive citizens’ input was held during the council meeting on April 24.
CM Munkers said allowing ATVs on city streets was a hot topic around the state, especially on the east side, and the legality of having them on the streets could ultimately come down to a decision by the courts. There were also concerns about liability and safety issues.
“We talked to the police, and officers expressed concerns at the last meeting, but we’ll follow the guidance of the council,” Munkers said.
Burns resident Ron Carroll told the council, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. There’s the liability issue, people would get carried away riding them around town, and I’m just against it. They’re not designed for streets.”
Steve Ruzicka stated he was a driver for the Dial-A-Ride program and he was, “opposed to any more chaos on the road.” He said he gave up riding a motorcycle because people didn’t always see him, and he felt like he was a target, and having ATVs on the road would be a similar issue.
Ruzicka said working as a driver around town, he has to deal with people driving around on lawn mowers, a golf cart and other vehicles not deemed legal to be on streets on a daily basis.
Two other Burns residents also told the council they were totally against allowing ATVs on city streets.
Councilor Terri Presley said having ATVs on streets would put an extra burden on police officers, as well as possibly costing the city money.
“If a person is in trouble and has an ATV, they’ll try to get away down the alleys. So the cops would then need four-wheelers to stay up with them. We’d need more officers, and the whole thing would cost the city more money,” she said.
The public hearing was then closed, and later in the meeting, after a brief discussion, the council voted against the ordinance.
Regarding the lack of funds for the installation of the fire suppression system at the Burns airport, CM Munkers reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had assured the city that they had the deficit covered.
“Monday morning it was a go,” Munkers said. “Then at 3:45 Monday afternoon, they said they didn’t have the money. They said they could loan us the money, but we can’t do that. We’re right back to square one.”
Munkers added the city is talking with the National Guard about doing some of the work, and the engineers are looking at possibly scaling back some of the plans to reduce costs.
Also in his report, Munkers said Darrell Williams will work about four hours a week on code enforcement for the city, addressing complaints about trash and yard waste.
Munkers stated that the county has received the product for spraying weeds in the city, and that work is expected to begin soon. The spraying will include the parks and cemetery.
The council received a request from Harney District Hospital to consider placing stop signs at the intersection of Grand and Adams streets, citing safety concerns. Public Works Director Dave Cullens said his crew and the police will monitor the area and come back to the council with a recommendation.
In other business:
• Harney County Veterans Service Officer Guy McKay told the council the Outreach Program would be starting May 1, and he would be visiting the rural communities on a regular basis.
McKay said he was working with Grant, Lake, Crook and Malheur counties to reach veterans who live in a different county, but are actually closer to another county’s services. “It would be like me going out to Juntura,” he said.
McKay invited the council to attend the ceremony at the Burns Armory on April 26, recognizing April as the Month of the Military Child, and an emotional health and support training on May 17;
• Judy Martin of Burns RV Park asked the council if there was a law restricting motorhomes from parking overnight on city streets and vacant lots.
“When they do that, it’s a revenue loss for the city as well as me,” she said.
CM Munkers said he would do the research to find out what the law says;
• Councilor Dan Hoke asked if the weed-spraying in the cemetery could begin as soon as possible because Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are both heavy traffic days.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, at city hall.