Proposed ordinance to allow ORVs on Cass County roads

Published 12:38 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

CASS COUNTY — Sharing the road may take on a new meaning if a new proposed ordinance takes effect.

At its regular meeting last Thursday, the Cass County Board of Commissioners approved a motion to set a public hearing for Thursday, April 21 to discuss a proposed ordinance to legalize off-road vehicles on Cass County roads. 

District 6 Commissioner Mike Grice, said he wanted to read the ordinance before approving the motion for a hearing.

“I would like to understand where this is coming from,” Grice said. “If my township is good with it, I am good with it, but I don’t want the county to force something on the townships we represent.”

Board Chairperson Skip Dyes pointed out that the motion is just to approve a hearing date, not the ordinance itself. 

If the proposed ordinance is passed, ORVs will be able to travel on the right side of all county-maintained roads, but will not be permitted to operate on the road surface, roadway, shoulder, or right-of-way of any state or federal highway in the county, or on any county primary road. Permitted vehicles include side-by-sides, all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles and more. Golf carts are not permitted under the proposed ordinance.

To legally operate an ORV under the ordinance, a person must possess a valid driver’s license, and purchase a county registration sticker for $75. The speed limit would be 25 MPH, and violations of the ordinance would result in a $500 fine.

Mason Township Trustee Charlie Arnold, who attended the county meeting, said he is an avid recreational ORV user, often traveling up north to ride. Recently, however, the cost of gasoline has hampered their desire to travel for this purpose. 

“I’m recently retired, so me and my wife will go up there for three or four days, come back for three or four days … with the gas prices, that ain’t happening,” Arnold said. “I am very positive about this ordinance. I hope it passes. … I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t.”

To Arnold, if residents can share the road with bicycles and motorcycles, they can share the road with ORVs.

“That old gripe about them being unsafe, that’s not true,” Arnold said. “Anytime you get in any vehicle, there is an inherent risk. … I see this as being quite safe.”

The public hearing, as well as a first reading of the ordinance, will be held during the April 21 commissioners meeting at 5 p.m. in the Cass County Administration Building.