A group off off-road enthusiasts are hoping to make it legal to drive off-highway vehicles — including ATVs and UTVs — on designated roads in Ohio County.
Sarah Coots, a member of the “OC Street Legal SxS” Facebook group, said Tuesday that there are several people in Ohio County who would like to see the law changed.
“Riding ATVs, side by side, things like that, is very popular in this area,” she said. More so since COVID-19 started.”
Coots said that there is no private or public off-road park for enthusiasts to enjoy, so they end up driving their off-road vehicles on public streets to get to a privately-owned location, where they can drive them off road.
“Most of the riding we do is on private property,” Coots said. “Thankfully, we know a lot of farmers who allow us to ride around. Of course, to get to the private property where you can ride, there is no way to do it legally, because you are not allowed to ride on the roads.”
Coots said that while there is a pilot program in the Kentucky Revised Statutes that allows for off-highway vehicles to be legally driven on the designated county and state roads, the county must have its own off-road park in order to apply for the program.
Members of the group plan to speak during the July 12 Ohio County Fiscal Court meeting to discuss their desire to see the law changed.
Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston said Wednesday that he had seen some Facebook posts about the desire to make the vehicles street legal in Ohio County.
“Prior to that, we were in a conference in Lexington last week, the judges and magistrates were, from around the state, and the laws are pretty much laid out to us,” Johnston said. “It would be a very difficult to do.”
Johnston said specific roads would have to be designated for use by off-road vehicles, and the vehicles would have to be equipped with seatbelts and turn signals.
“It is pretty difficult,” he said, “but our court is so open minded, we will listen.”
Coots said she is aware that several years ago off-road vehicles were allowed to drive at Highview Hill, a county-owned nature preserve, but that is no longer the case.
Johnston said Highview Hill was acquired by the country through Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation funds to maintain the land as a nature preserve. Initially, off-road vehicles were allowed to utilize its trails, but Johnston said it did not work out in the long run due to damage the vehicles created in the park.
While Johnston said he is not interested in trying to utilize Highview Hill for off-road vehicles again, he said he is open to the idea of a county off-road park.
“We are looking for land all the time that we can do an ATV, UTV park on, but we don’t have it yet,” he said. “It requires a big space, 1,000 acres or so.”
Coots said she was contacted by Johnston on Wednesday and told that a committee would likely be formed to further explore the idea.