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Darlington considers allowing ATVs, NEVs on streets
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DARLINGTON - The Darlington Police Department wants to discuss the idea of expanding existing ATV trails to city streets.

The department also wants to gauge public interest in the use of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) on city streets.

The department will host a public meeting later this month. An exact date has not yet been determined.

Mayor Dave Breunig said about two dozen people have talked to him and aldermen this year about ATVs on city streets and NEVs. He usually receives about a half dozen inquiries a year.

"This year there's been a significant increase, and I attribute that to the economy," Breunig said. "If people want this, then we'll go for it. Why not? That's why we want to hear what the public has to say."

ATV use in Darlington is restricted to ATV trails, including the Cheese Country Trail on the south side, the Shullsburg Trail, which runs along County K, and another recreation trail which intersects with downtown. NEVs are not allowed on city streets.

John Ruf founded the Tri-County ATV Club, and is chairman for Fayette township. He said all township roads are open to ATV drivers, and he would like to see Darlington become more ATV-friendly.

"Driving ATVs in the city is not a problem, and what it does is allow people to drive to the trails," Ruf said. "ATVs are no different than any other motor vehicle."

Police Chief Jason King said the department has no stance on ATV and NEV use on city streets.

"We're not against the idea, but we want people to be aware what this means," King said.

King said some people have a misconception that expansion of ATV trails would enable dirtbikes, Polaris Rangers, golf carts or other recreation vehicles to be operated on city streets.

He said that's not the case. Plus, issues such as noise and safety would have to be examined in allowing ATVs on city streets.

King has talked with members of the state Department of Natural Resources and police personnel from other villages and said he has no concern with ATVs on city streets.

Anyone with questions about the meeting or who would like to speak with King about the issues in advance of the meeting can reach him at 776-4981.

ATVs and NEVs would have to follow the same rules of the road as cars.

"It's not like we're outsiders or terrorists," Ruf said. "We're just people trying to get where we want to go."

On Tuesday, the Monroe City Council passed an ordinance allowing NEVs on its city streets.