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Winchester may do an ATV/UTV road use survey

April 17, 2020 by Brian Jopek

The town of Winchester may soon be conducting a survey regarding all-terrain vehicle and utility vehicle use on town roads. 

At the March 2 town board meeting, town supervisor Sulo Wainio said he’d had a constituent approach him about the town looking at ATV/UTV use on town roads.

“I think the best plan of action is for the town board to hand this over to the planning commission,” he said. “They’re in charge of all the recreational trails. Let them hammer it out, go through the processes and bring a recommendation to the town board when they’re ready.”

“Why are you going to turn it over to the planning commission when there’s a club?” Winchester resident Brian Buckland asked from the back of the room. 

The club he was referring to is the North Tundra Riders, which Wainio later told The Lakeland Times is currently inactive, but just needs to meet again. 

He explained to Buckland the planning commission is responsible at the town level for planning any recreational trails in the town.

“An ATV/UTV trail or route would come under recreation,” Wainio said. “Instead of the town board spending God knows how many hours trying to figure this out, that’s what the planning commission’s purpose is. They get all the information and bring back a recommendation to the town board.”

He made a motion the planning commission be tasked with looking at possible ATV/UTV routes in the town of Winchester. 

Town supervisor Galen Brownewell seconded the motion and asked Wainio if it would be something that would be brought to the public. 

“Will this be brought up for a public vote then?” he asked. 

“The planning commission actually should have hearings on that,” Wainio said.

Brownewell added the hearings as a modification to his second of Wainio’s motion. 

Town chairman Joe Discianno called the vote and the motion passed. 

The possibility of an ATV/UTV survey question was brought up in public comment later in the meeting by Winchester resident Dick Smith. 

“I believe the motion was to have the planning commission plan routes,” he said. “I’m a little confused. Are we assuming that ATVs and UTVs are going to be permitted and just don’t know where to put ‘em? Because I thought the town stood very strongly against them.”

“That’s exactly why I said it’s got to go out to the public,” Brownewell said. 

Wainio reiterated the town board is tasking the planning commission to “go through and look” at what potential routes are available in Winchester.

“Shouldn’t we decide if we want ‘em first?” Smith asked. 

There was a brief pause and then town chairman Joe Discianno spoke. 

“I would think so,” he said, answering Smith’s question.

“It would alleviate a lot of hassle going through the planning commission,” Brownewell said. 

“The planning commission could still put the survey together,” Wainio said. “It’s not something the three of us want to do. It’s something the planning commission can do.”

He went further and said developing a survey question could be number one on the list of things to do for the planning commission regarding ATVs and UTVs. 

“To bring back to the town board for approval,” Wainio said. 

“I think that’s the right way to go and the very first thing that needs to be done,” Brownewell said. 

Former town chairman Rick Clem asked if the survey would be sent to registered voters or to taxpayers. 

“That makes a big difference on voting,” he said. “Because people sitting in Iowa, Illinois or southern Wisconsin and don’t live up here are never gonna vote for anything ... you should direct the planning commission on how to do that survey, whether it’s registered voters or just taxpayers.”

“Either way we go, we can’t win,” Wainio said. “If we don’t include the taxpayers, they’re gonna get offended.”

Clem stressed the importance of deciding who the survey would go to, citing plans for a new library that was to be built next to the Winchester Town Hall to the north. 

A survey sent out to taxpayers around 10 years ago showed there was no interest in building a new library. 

“There’s one in Presque Isle, there’s one in Manitowish Waters,” Clem said. “That’s how this new one that was supposed to be sitting here got destroyed.”

He also pointed out one other thing to be considered: who uses the roads, people in Winchester all the time or those who are in the Winchester area just a couple weeks each year. 

“So, you (the town board) need to decide who’s gonna vote,” he said. 

If the town of Winchester ultimately do a survey, it would be the latest in the Lakeland area to do so. 

A survey asking taxpayers and registered voters if ATVs and UTVs should have year round access to roads in the town of Lake Tomahawk was mailed to voters last week. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]



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