Hebron restricts use of off-road vehicles

2013-04-18T00:00:00Z Hebron restricts use of off-road vehiclesBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

HEBRON | An ordinance passed last fall that made it legal for golf carts to operate on town streets resulted in unexpected problems.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Council President Don Ensign said the town has not had any abuses of the golf cart ordinance, but the council is expanding it to cover other recreational vehicles normally considered as being for off-road driving, like all-terrain vehicles, trail bikes, motor scooters or mopeds.

Police Chief Steve Sibbrell said since the ordinance passed the town has had an increase in the number of residents, including youngsters too young to have a driver's license, driving the other recreational vehicles, especially four-wheel ATVs, on the streets illegally. The amended ordinance was designed to cover all types of off-road vehicles.

"They are not allowed on the streets, and they can't be driven anywhere without the property owner's consent," Sibbrell said. "If they go over 25 m.p.h., they have to be on your own land. If people complain because they are too loud, you can get a ticket."

Ensign said residents can call the police department about loud off-road vehicles and report them anonymously. Sibbrell said the new ordinance gives the police department the legal teeth to put the bite on violators. The vehicles also are not allowed on the railroad right of way or on public property, such as parks or school grounds.

Violating the ordinance could get expensive. Sibbrell said violators will get a warning the first time, but the first ticket will result in a $100 fine. A second violation within a year is subject to a $250 fine, and any subsequent violations within the same year will bring a $2,500 fine.

"If that's what it takes, that's what we will do," Ensign said. "We are not trying to restrict people from using the vehicles, but we are trying to protect people's right to live on their own property in peace."

The council approved the change to the ordinance unanimously.

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