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City helps business serve ATV customers

The Dalles City Council has fulfilled what staffers called an “unusual” request to help a local business serve customers.

Fun Country Power Sports, 1318 W. Second St., will soon be able to legally send all-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATVs, across the highway to fill up their gas tanks.

On July 22, the council agreed that employees from the business could drive across a section of Second Street to access a fueling station about 200 yards away. The vehicles can then return to the business by following the same route without violating the Oregon Vehicle Code.

“It hasn’t been a problem and it’s been going on for years,” said Councilor Carolyn Wood. “So we are just fixing something.”

She and other council members felt it was in the best interest of the community to support Fun Country, which contributes to the economic welfare of the town. The new ordinance goes into effect Aug. 22.

“I think this is a common sense ordinance,” said Mike Erland, owner of Fun Country, in a follow-up interview.

“It really does make a difference beause we can’t store enough fuel on site to keep up with the demand.”

The issue came to the forefront when an Oregon State Police trooper recently stopped an employee for crossing the street on an ATV. The traffic stop brought the issue of legality to the forefront since state law allows off-road vehicles to travel highways only if cities give permission.

Fun Country then requested that a special route for ATVs be designated under the municipal code. Erland said having all-terrain vehicles loaded on a fork lift and then transported to the gas station, or a fuel tank installed on the grounds of the business, would be much more expensive than allowing travel for a limited purpose.

“We felt it was helping a business help its customers,” said Dick Gassman, director of the Community Development and Planning Department, who recommended adoption of the new code.

“I commend staff for coming up with the solution to a problem by thinking out of the box,” said Councilor Dan Spatz iat the July 22 meeting.

Although the council agreed with Gassman’s assessment, they are requiring Fun Country to cover the $450 cost of signs that will be posted to show the approved route for ATVs.

The route is restricted to use by employees of Fun Country who are driving either on the pavement or roadway shoulder to the gas station at 1433 West Second Street and back.

Drivers of an ATV must yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and cannot travel upon the sidewalk. They must follow the posted speed limit and comply with all safety requirements imposed on cars and trucks.

The employee behind the wheel must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license and secured by a safety harness if one is available.

They can only travel on the city street from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Violations of the ordinance are punishable by a fine not to exceed the sum of $500.

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