ATV route map Nelsonville

A community-created map of areas covered under the new limited ATV-use law in Nelsonville. Image created by Dan Mize.

Nelsonville City Council voted Monday to approve an ATV-friendly ordinance that allows use of street legal ATVs and all-purpose vehicles on some city streets.

The Athens Messenger previously reported the ordinance, spearheaded by Council Member Justin Booth, was moving out of the Planning and Development Committee to regular readings.

The ordinance was passed unanimously, but still needs to be amended before it goes into effect 30 days from Monday, Booth said.

Booth told The Messenger on Wednesday that the ordinance has been the product of many people’s efforts over the years, and has the possibility of bringing tourism money to the city.

“I think it’s another piece of the puzzle to bring some prosperity back into our city,” Booth said. “This is something that makes us unique and enhances us as a destination for outdoor fun-seekers.”

Under the new ATV provisions, licensed ATV operators can drive on the following streets:

  • Hocking Parkway from Canal Street to State Route 691
  • Canal Street from State Route 691 to John Lloyd Evans
  • John Lloyd Evans to Dorr Run Road
  • Riverside Drive from Hocking Parkway to Wolfe Bennett Road
  • Burr Oak Boulevard to Sylvania Avenue to Woodland Drive

All other Nelsonville streets are off limits to ATV operators, the ordinance said. They also are restricted to daylight hours.

All standard traffic laws apply to riders, who must be over 18, licensed and insured.

The ordinance also sets out clear rules for the vehicles:

  • Vehicles must be equipped by a working rear brake light.
  • Vehicles must have one rear-view mirror
  • Vehicles must have a working horn
  • Vehicles must not exceed a certain decibel limit
  • Vehicles cannot create excessive mud or dirt on city streets

The new regulations will be enforced by the Nelsonville Police Department, the ordinance said. NPD Chief Scott Fitch previously told The Messenger he was planning to enforce the new ATV laws in a cautionary and advisory capacity as the city adjusts to the new rules.

Fitch told The Messenger he supported the legislation and agreed it would be an economic benefit to the city.

However, he said to expect “growing pains” should the ordinance be passed. The growing pains, he said, would be educating ATV users and concerned citizens alike about constraints and where and how they can be used in town.

However, he expects most people to be mindful of new rules.

“Will there be some people that violate the law?” Fitch said. “Sure — the same way we have people with vehicles.”

He said unless violations are blatant flouts of the law, he expects most encounters with law enforcement would only be cautionary and officers would advise ATV users of the law.

Booth previously told The Messenger this ordinance is something of a trial and can be revoked or go un-renewed if it doesn’t work out for the city.

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