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Jefferson to decide ATV issue at April meeting
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP - An advisory referendum which recently passed by a slim 52-48 percent margin will be the fuel for one of a number of discussions between members of the Jefferson town board and Green County ATV Club in longtime disagreement.

Town Chair Harvey Mandel said a decision will be made during the April 18 meeting over "whether to move forward" with an ATV route allowed on township roads.

A member of the Green County ATV Club, Dusty Kubly, who has been involved in the campaign to establish a trail through Jefferson, found the passage of the recent advisory referendum at 165 to 150 votes as a positive step for the group's effort.

"This tells me it's a very important topic," Kubly said. "It also tells me the majority of people want it."

The point of contention is Town Center Road, which runs west from Jefferson to Clarno. Members of area ATV clubs and the Tri-County Trails Commission have been attempting to convince Jefferson township to allow riders to use the road as part of a larger effort to connect Monroe to Brodhead and Iowa County to Rock County via an ATV trail.

The proposed trail would connect to the existing trail in Monroe, jutting south to Clarno, turning east on Town Center Road through Jefferson and into Spring Grove before heading north through Decatur to join Ten Eyck Road, entering Brodhead from the west.

Clarno agreed to the proposed ATV route more than two years ago. Since then, Spring Grove and Decatur have both approved the use of township roads for an ATV trail. Jefferson is the last remaining municipality to approve local road use, though proponents of the trail would still need approval from the Green County Board of Supervisors to use County OK between Town Center Road and Ten Eyck Road.

Town Board Supervisor Lyle Samson declined to comment until a decision had been made, but Mandel said he was wary of the vote despite its passage. He noted that the number of residents within the township is more than 600 and the margin of a 15-vote difference was close. An advisory referendum does not require action by lawmakers regardless of its outcome.

Mandel added that while the campaign to vote in favor of the referendum had a strong public presence, those who felt the opposite were less outspoken prior to the April 3 election. He said in the past, and currently, residents who live along the road have resisted allowing ATVs to ride through. Noise was one of the key reasons. Mandel added that a lawyer with the Wisconsin Towns Association advised the township against a trail because it would be held liable for any accidents.

Both Mandel and Samson have stated in the past that adding ATV traffic to roads increases the risk of an accident.

Kubly has been critical of the board's hesitance to allow ATVs on Town Center Road. He said he did not have faith the board decision during its April 18 meeting would be in the trail's favor, despite the winning vote, and had "no doubt it will be shut down."

"Harvey and Lyle will do everything they can to prevent this," Kubly said, adding that if the plan is not approved at the local level, organizers would approach the county to request the use of highways around Jefferson. "I think it was fantastic they had 300 people vote on it, and I'm glad to see the answer was yes. It's time for the board members to listen to their voters."


**Updated April 18