Home News Local News Ordinance for off-highway vehicles on city roads headed to public hearing

Ordinance for off-highway vehicles on city roads headed to public hearing

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An ordinance allowing large off-highway vehicles on some city roads is scheduled for a Nov. 9 public hearing before the Roswell City Council. Randy Robertson has been working for about a year to make operating the vehicles on city and county roads legal. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A proposed ordinance to allow Roswell residents to use large off-highway vehicles on city streets will soon be considered at a public hearing, another step in a local man’s year-long effort to get the laws changed locally.

After many meetings and discussions involving Randy Robertson and law enforcement officers, the city attorney and city councilors, the City Council voted to allow a public hearing on a proposed ordinance. The meeting is scheduled Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Roswell Museum and Art Center.

“Politics, you never know until they vote,” said Randy Robertson about the possibility of getting City Councilors to vote for the change to the Roswell City Code. “I am not going to say that I am 100 percent. I have a very good feeling about it, but I am not going to say 100 percent by no means.”

Robertson has been an off-road enthusiast for many years, and he said that he thinks life would be more convenient for some people if they could use their off-road vehicles for shorter trips around town.

“Our intention isn’t for people just to go cruising up and down Main Street,” he said, noting that the vehicles for the time being will not be allowed on highways or established truck routes, so would be prohibited on Main and Second streets and portions of East College Boulevard, North and South Atkinson Avenue and McGaffey Street.

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“This is more or less for people who might want to pick up their kids from school or if your car (is temporarily out of commission).” he said. “The other reason why is the farmers. They fall under the agricultural act, but, on the flip side, they are going to be safe this way. They will have insurance, and they will be completely legal.”

Since New Mexico enacted legislation in 2016 allowing local governments to adopt ordinances permitting the use of off-highway vehicles on paved roads, six counties and 13 municipalities have either adopted or are considering such ordinances, according to the New Mexico Game and Fish Department website, which informs people about OHV use. Arizona also has allowed off-highway vehicles on select roads for years, Robertson said. He added that no one he has talked with is aware of any serious mishaps in New Mexico involving off-highway vehicles since the 2016 law passed.

Plenty of local residents agree with the ordinance, he said. He runs a Facebook page, Street Legal UTV, to keep about 138 supporters informed on the legalization effort.

As part his work to get the ordinance passed, he has agreed to create a video posted to YouTube to instruct people about “do’s and don’ts” should the ordinance pass.

The ordinance Robertson is proposing would allow only the larger, four-wheel Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROVs), also sometimes called Utility Truck Vehicles (UTVs), on paved roads. These resemble large golf carts. Although state law allows for the smaller, straddle-seat vehicles, the proposed ordinance would specifically bar those. Robertson said he thinks they would be too dangerous on roads alongside autos and trucks. But he says the bigger vehicles are larger than Mini Coupes or some other passenger cars.

The proposed ordinance also requires that the vehicles meet a host of requirements such as: working headlights and tail lights, side mirrors, a speed odometer, insurance, a Motor Vehicle permit, a 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number, the capacity to go at least 35 miles per hour, a steering wheel, a weight below 1,750 pounds and a width of less than 80 inches.

If the city passes the ordinance, Robertson then will work for an ordinance to be adopted by the county. He said taking them one at a time is meant to ensure that the same ordinance is used in both the city and county. He already has made a couple of informal appearances at meetings of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners to discuss the idea.

“When you get the approved version from the city, bring a copy over here so we will take a look at it,” said Commission Chair Robert Corn on Oct 19. “I appreciate your staying put to the fire, as they say.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.