Supervisors say no to ATVs on roads

Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 14, 2021

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The topic of allowing ATVs to operate on VDOT roads within the county that are not marked with center lines was brought before the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) on Monday, May 10, but was quickly shot down.

Supervisor Will Garnett noted he had received requests from several citizens asking the county to allow the operation of ATVs on state-maintained roads.

According to the monthly BOS packet, those requesting the allowance referenced Buckingham County as an example of a locality that allows ATVs on roads.

“We only have a certain village area in New Canton that actually allows it,” Buckingham County Administrator Becky Carter said. “I know others to drive them everywhere, but that is up to law enforcement to handle.”

In reviewing Buckingham County’s ordinance, Charlotte County Administrator Dan Witt said it is very restrictive and limits the use and speed of golf carts and ATVs.

According to Charlotte County Sheriff Royal Freeman, it would require a change in Virginia state code 46.2-915.1 to allow this in Charlotte County.

Virginia state code 46.2-915.1 states, “No all-terrain vehicle shall be operated: On any public highway or other public property, except (i) as authorized by proper authorities, (ii) to the extent necessary to cross a public highway by the most direct route, or (iii) by law-enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical services personnel responding to emergencies.

Supervisor Garland Hamlett, Jr. said he had public safety concerns and questioned how it would be enforced. “The state code is pretty strict and straightforward,” Hamlett said.

“Staff would need to be directed by the board to contact Senator Frank Ruff or Delegate James Edmunds to patron an amendment to the code during the next legislative session,” Witt said. “The county would also need guidance from the county attorney on this matter,” he said.

Supervisor Tony Reeves made a motion to take no action on the issue.

Before the vote, Supervisor Donna Fore spoke up to say she felt that the issue should be tabled and researched.

I’m not happy about just dismissing this matter,” Fore said. “I’ve seen violations of this code all over the county. I’ve seen people riding on the backroads and even some of the major roads on ATVs and mopeds without helmets, and I think it’s a huge safety issue.”

Fore further said she did not want to stop citizens from enjoying themselves, but she felt the issue needed to be addressed and violations of the code should be enforced.