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Pateros OKs ATV use on city streets

City swears in new mayor at last week’s meeting

— With little fanfare and no objections, the City Council voted last week to allow all-terrain vehicles on all city streets.

An ordinance approved at the Dec. 16 meeting permits people to drive snowmobiles and non-highway vehicles, which also includes motorcycles that aren’t licensed to drive on state highways. The city has already permitted snowmobiles during winter months in previous years.

Clerk-treasurer Kerri Wilson said a couple residents had questions or gave their approval of the ordinance, but no one spoke against it during the public hearing.

Although state law now prohibits ATV use on roads above 35 mph, none of Pateros’ streets have speed limits higher than that. The speed limit for ATVs and snowmobiles is set at 20 mph within city limits.

Wilson said riders will be able to cross U.S. Highway 97 to get from one side of town to the other, but they cannot ride along the highway.

The ordinance follows guidelines set by the state, which require ATVs to have a headlight, taillight, adequate brakes, a spark arrester and a muffler. It also forbids ATVs from damaging property.

Snowmobiles also require a four-foot tall flag.

Penalties for breaking city law could mean a $250 fine per violation, as well as damage costs for injuries or destroyed property.

Other towns that permit ATVs include Okanogan, Conconully and Tonasket.

A lawsuit is still pending in Okanogan County Superior Court against the county, which passed two ordinances to open about 635 miles of roads to ATVs in late July.

In the suit, Methow Valley Citizens Council and Conservation Northwest are asking the Superior Court to issue an injunction preventing the ordinances from being implemented, along with a declaration that the ordinances violate the Revised Code of Washington dealing with all-terrain vehicle use and the state’s Environmental Policy Act.

The groups “seek to prevent the increased damage that is likely to result from the illegal ORV (off-road vehicle) and all-terrain vehicle access to sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, as well as other environmental harm, that these ordinances will allow and encourage,” according to the lawsuit documents filed Aug. 14.

In other Pateros city news:

• Mayor-elect Libby Harrison was sworn in, along with council members Alex Hymer, Christine Perry, Adam Fritz and Ryan Greene. Councilman George Brady was named mayor pro tempore in 2014.

• Brady and outgoing Mayor Gail Howe will serve as ambassadors for the city when they visit sister city Pateros, Philippines, in February. Wilson said the two will continue to serve as ambassadors at home, as well.

• The council adjusted the mayor’s salary ordinance for 2014 to note that the mayor will receive a set stipend of $500 per month. The mayor can earn up to $500 more per month depending on how many meetings she attends on behalf of the city.

The council will approve a monthly meeting plan for the mayor, Wilson said.

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