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Wasilla planning commission recommends ban on off-road vehicles

Tegan Hanlon

Wasilla is moving closer to outlawing four-wheelers and other off-road vehicles.

The city planning commission passed a resolution Tuesday recommending the city council ban the use of all off-road vehicles within Wasilla city limits. Commissioner Loren Means cast the only dissenting vote.

“We’re not telling people not to have ATVs,” said Planning Commissioner Daniel Kelly Jr. in a Wednesday interview. “As a matter of fact, I highly support their activities of having ATVs, but do not to misuse them in a growing community.”

In its resolution, the planning commission wrote that Wasilla’s off-road vehicles have become safety hazards. Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright has backed the ban, saying four-wheelers zooming along main corridors don't mesh with the city's fast growth.

“It’s just a symptom of change,” Rupright said. “It has become too dangerous.”

Palmer already outlaws off-road vehicles, and Anchorage banned them in the 1970s

Opponents of the Wasilla ban argue that forbidding the use of snowmachines and four-wheelers will interfere with residents’ daily routines and businesses. Means said that while some people drive off-road vehicles recklessly within Wasilla, that doesn’t mean all should be punished. He recommended the city increase signage and education on where driving is appropriate.

“No one’s looking for a solution; they’re just looking to slam the door,” Means said.

Under Wasilla’s 1999 trails plan, the city permits the use of off-road vehicles along Lucille Street, Knik-Goose Bay Road and the Parks Highway while restricting use in the rest of the city.

City council has the final say on outlawing off-road vehicles. The ban will be introduced at its July 28 meeting.