Fraser wants to open roads to OHVs
Fraser is moving forward with the possibility of allowing certain off highway vehicles on town roads.
The town sent out a survey in January to gauge public opinion about the possibility of off highway vehicles, or OHVs, on town roads that received a mix of reactions.
OHV is a catchall term for vehicles with four wheels used primarily for recreation or transportation off public highways, not including snowmobiles or golf carts. All terrain vehicles are a specific type of OHV, as are utility type or side-by-side vehicles.
The survey reached a total of 395 people, with 116 Fraser residents responding. A slim majority of Fraser residents opposed the idea and most visitors and tourists were in favor. Overall, the majority of respondents were supportive of OHV use on town roads, specifically utility type vehicles.
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Winter Park also participated in the survey and entertained the possibility of allowing OHVs, but decided earlier this month not to pursue any changes at this time.
Some trustees raised concerns that reflected the comments from the survey. Environmental worries and road safety were the two biggest issues.
Board and audience members made the argument that the environmental issues were unfounded, as the national forest areas already allow OHV use and only on designated trails. They said preventing use on town roads would not change the use in the national forest.
As for road safety, those in favor of OHVs pointed to the snowmobiles already allowed on town roads with little issue. Beyond that, the growing popularity of the recreation activity may force Fraser to allow it anyway in the coming years.
At the end of the discussion, all board members agreed to move forward and directed town staff to begin drafting regulations. The trustees agreed that regulating the vehicles like cars would be most effective.
The board expects further discussions before anything is finalized, including looking into enforceability and designating places for the vehicles to cross US Highway 40.
The town will also have discussions with the county about allowing OHVs on the unincorporated roads needed to connect the town with the national forest trails.
In other business:
• The trustees approved a franchise agreement with Middle Parks Electric. The company had previously been operating without a franchise pursuant to the general statutes and regulations.
• The board canceled their regular election because of the limited number of interested candidates and instead reelected trustees Eileen Waldrow, Parnell Quinn and Mayor Philip Vandernail, and appointed Brian Cerkvenik to the board.
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