REED CITY — The Reed City city council introduced an ordinance to allow the use of UTVs on city streets at its recent meeting and will consider making it permanent next month.

“We did a trial run over the summer allowing UTV traffic within the city limits in order to utilize gas stations and to patronize businesses,” Mayor Roger Meinert said. “Before us is the official ordinance that allows this to be a permanent part of the community.”

Meinert said since the police department would be the ones to enforce it, he would like to know if they had any concerns about the ordinance.

“Since my time with the city, we have had minimal complaints regarding UTV traffic,” Police Chief Chris Lockhart said. “I think it will be good for the community.”

The ordinance is an amendment to the traffic code for the purpose of “authorizing and regulating” the operation of UTVs on city streets.

A UTV is defined as a motor driven, off road recreational vehicle capable of cross-country travel without the benefit of a road or trail, according to the ordinance.

Vehicles are limited to two-person seating and four wheels. The ordinance excludes snowmobiles, farm vehicles, vehicles used for military, fire, emergency or law enforcement and any vehicle operated by a utility company.

The ordinance requires that UTVs be operated on the far right of the “maintained portion” of the street, and may not use the road surface, shoulder or right-of-way of any state or federal highway.

Dave Porteous, Reed City's legal counsel, said whenever a new ordinance is being considered, as per the city charter, they are required to introduce it at one meeting and put it over to the next meeting to take action on it in order to allow council members and the public to provide comment prior to it being acted upon.

For additional information on the ordinance, or to comment, visit reedcity.org or call 231-832-2245.

In other business, the council approved a request from Sunny’s Bar and Grill to purchase space on the restaurant sign on U.S. 131, and additional direction signage on U.S. 10 and Chestnut Street.

City Manager Ron Howell said the restaurant owner is trying to make a presence on the freeway in order to drive customers to their business.

“They need to have signs that direct the customers to their location,” Howell said. “My understanding is he wants to put the sign on the decorative light poles on Chestnut Street. We haven’t had any private business signs on those, so we wanted to make sure council was comfortable with that.”

“We are all in favor of bringing people to the downtown area and bringing people out to our businesses,” Meinert added. “I can see other businesses making a similar request in the future, so we need to think about whether the location would be appropriate.”

Councilman Trevor Guiles suggested they speak with other downtown businesses to see if there is an interest in having signage.

Howell said that the right-of-way and the signage on U.S. 10 and Chestnut street is controlled by MDOT and anything the city does would have to be approved through them.

“They are looking for us to approve this final step in the direction signage process,” Howell said. “If we want to expand that to have more business signage, I think they are going to have to approve that, as well.”

Meinert recommended approval of the request from Sunny’s Bar and Grill for now, and said if other businesses make similar requests, they will be handled at that time.

Also during the meeting, Howell updated the council on the Disc Golf Course and the Dog Park projects.

“We continue to work on finding a supplier for the disc golf course materials and get some firm bids,” he said. “We have the contractor’s quote for installation, so that will begin as soon as the weather breaks.”

Howell said they are still in the data gathering process for the dog park, looking at the number of dog licenses issued to the county to provide that to the state in support of the use of their land for the park.

In addition, Howell informed council that he had been contacted by a local businessman who is negotiating to buy the Northend Grocery property.

“I am sharing with them the information from the Ferris architectural students, including information about access to the river,” Howell said. “They are interested in establishing a prewpub/restaurant type business, so we will see what happens with that.”

During the meeting the council approved a motion to waive rental fees for the Old Rugged Cross Museum, and instead charge them only for electric usage, from now until May 31, 2021.

Newly-elected museum board president, Nate Bailey told council they are in the process of moving to the new downtown location and would like to reserve their funds to facilitate the move.

"We request that while we are working toward moving our location that the city subsidize the remaining portion of the rent that we pay monthly," Bailey said.

Guiles suggested they waive the monthly rental fee and in its place charge the museum for their electrical usage through the end of May.

The museum is currently closed to the public until May 2021. Bailey said they will be using that time to fix up the new building, digitally catalog all the artifacts, decide where the exhibits will go and curate artifacts for an exhibit honoring John McDowell, who bequeathed the McDowell funeral home to the museum.

The museum plans to open at their new location, 138 W. Slosson Avenue, in May.

Council also approved the interlocal designated assessor agreement with Osceola County and adopted the 2021 meeting schedule. Council meetings will continue to be held at 7 p.m., the third Monday of each month, with exceptions for holidays.