The Bismarck City Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance allowing for certain registered off-highway vehicles to drive legally on city streets.
The vote came after a public hearing, during which no one spoke in opposition.
The ordinance, which brings the city into the ranks of those including Mandan that already allow the vehicles, imposes a strict set of requirements for all such vehicles.
The standards for a Class 3 off-highway vehicle include a minimum width of 50 inches, a maximum weight of 8,000 pounds, a roll cage, a working horn and turn signals, a minimum speed of 25 mph and working seatbelts for all occupants. There are nearly 800 such vehicles in Bismarck registered with the state, along with about 300 in Mandan, according to the Department of Transportation.
The ordinance had gone through multiple stages of development before being presented to the City Commission. Josh Vallely, general manager of Vallely Sport and Marine in Bismarck, has been a major supporter of the change and helped to draft the ordinance.
“Without proper regulations, we have issues,” Vallely said. “The way it’s written now allows the regulations to be clear and concise.”
Clarity was a major factor in the commission’s decision to approve the ordinance, to give OHV drivers in the metro a clear idea of what's allowed and what isn't.
“If people can’t simply understand this, we’re failing,” Mayor Steve Bakken said.
Bismarck Police Chief David Draovitch attended Tuesday's hearing and agreed to provide the commission with a report on the effects of the new ordinance at the end of the warm season.
All Class 3 off-highway vehicles meeting specified requirements can now legally drive on Bismarck city streets. The proposed ordinance applies only to city roads with a speed limit under 55 mph, meaning the vehicles will still not be allowed on highways and interstates in Bismarck.