By JAMES BELL
ELLIS — Residents in the city of Ellis might see something new on the streets after the city council approved the operation of utility vehicles, micro utility trucks and utility terrain vehicles on residential streets in the city at their meeting last week.
The measure passed 5-1.
Nick Keller presented the idea in public comments to the council last month after the state began allowing the vehicles on state highways.
"We have people in town that are using these for agricultural use to go out and do chores and check cattle," Keller said. "And it's nice to be able to come in and out of town."
As the measure was discussed at subsequent meetings, the largest point of debate was the rules surrounding children riding in the vehicles and who would be responsible if an accident occurs.
"It ultimately falls back on us to a certain degree because we are passing the ordinance," said council member John Walz.
"We're not parents," said council member Martin LaBarge, who argued that parents should make the decision on whether children should be allowed to ride in the vehicles.
"I'm concerned about that also, but it's no different than a kid unbuckling in a car," he said.
"There is a lot more chance of getting hurt in one of these," Walz said.
City Attorney Olavee Raub said she agreed there would be no liability on the city.
"I don't want the tragedy on my mind, as far as a child falling out and getting killed," Walz said.
He said without more specific safety regulations he could not vote for the measure.
At the final reading, Walz was the sole dissenting vote.
The ordinance as passed will allow the operation of the vehicles, during daylight hours, unless the vehicle is being used for agricultural uses.
Seatbelts will be required and passengers under the age of 18 will be required to use a helmet.
Other regulations put in place by the ordinance regulate the vehicles must have the same lighting that is required on motorcycles as well as rearview mirrors.