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November 15, 2012

Tipton may allow snowmobile on roads

Most area counties prohibit off-track vehicles.

Tipton — Earlier this year, Tipton County adopted an ordinance making it legal to use off-road vehicles, ATVS and golf carts on county roads. Now, county officials are considering legalizing snowmobile usage as well.

Just like the first ordinance, which passed in July at the request of farmers who use the vehicles to go between fields to pick up supplies, the new proposed ordinance comes at the request of county residents.

Commissioner Phil Heron said Wednesday the proposal is still under consideration and could be discussed at Monday’s commissioner meeting. He doesn’t expect a vote on the ordinance during that meeting.

The snowmobiles, like the ATVs, golf carts and off-road vehicles are prohibited from using state roads.

“We used the Rush County ordinance as a model for the ATVs and off-road vehicles [ordinance],” Heron said. “They don’t allow the use of snowmobiles.”

The ordinance made it legal to use the vehicles on county roads if they are registered with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. A DNR registration costs $30 for three years.

Requirements include a working muffler and the vehicle can’t weigh more than 2,000 pounds. The vehicles can only be used from sunrise to sunset in the unincorporated areas of the county. Violations can result in a maximum fine of $500.

Most southern Indiana counties allow the use of ATVs and off-road vehicles on county roads, according to DNR.

Tipton County Sheriff John Moses said if approved, the snowmobiles should be operated by a licensed user and follow all the regulations.

“I’m not against it,” Moses said. “They should have insurance on the snowmobiles.”

Moses said he didn’t want the snowmobiles used on main roads, unless there is a snow emergency. He recommended the vehicles be prohibited from using Division Road because of the heavy traffic.

Commissioner Jane Harper said she was concerned because people would not be able to see a snowmobile.

“They would have to meet all the DNR requirements,” she said. “We need to check to see what surrounding counties allow.”

In Howard County, Sheriff Steve Rogers said their use is prohibited and is opposed to that changing.

“There is so much vehicular traffic in Howard County,” Rogers said. “We can’t let someone ride on an ATV or snowmobile on the county roads.”

Rogers said some small towns allow the use of golf carts on public roads.

“There is no legalized use of ATVs and snowmobiles,” he said. “There were designated snowmobile routes in the county during emergencies.”

Rogers said legalizing the ATVs, snowmobiles or off-road vehicles would present an unnecessary risk.

Miami and Carroll counties allow the use of registered ATVs.

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