Mini-trucks to be allowed on Carlton County roadwaysCarlton County commissioners have approved an ordinance that will allow mini-trucks to drive on county roadways. Following a public hearing held during the board’s adjourned session on Monday, the measure passed on a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Ted Pihlman casting the lone dissenting vote.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Carlton County commissioners have approved an ordinance that will allow mini-trucks to drive on county roadways.
Following a public hearing held during the board’s adjourned session on Monday, the measure passed on a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Ted Pihlman casting the lone dissenting vote.
The proposal came at the request of Ben Fisher-Merritt of Wrenshall, who had earlier asked commissioners to consider an ordinance that would make it legal for mini-trucks to be driven on county roadways.
In order to be permitted as a mini-truck, Fisher-Merritt explained, a vehicle must have required safety features such as outside mirrors and seat belts as well as being equipped with street tires and able to
travel at normal highway speeds.
Fisher-Merritt said four counties in Minnesota currently have ordinances to allow mini-trucks to travel public roadways and added that three others are considering similar legislation. He added that 13 states currently have ordinances that allow mini-trucks on all roadways in the state.
During the hearing, Pihlman indicated that he thought the matter should be addressed at the state level instead of the county.
“I feel that what we have in place [here in Carlton County] is great just the way it is,” stated Pihlman.
Commissioner Dick Brenner pointed out that the sub-size Yugo automobile is already approved for roadways in many states and indicated that mini-trucks vary little from those particular vehicles.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler wasn’t eager to jump on that band wagon just yet, however, arguing that an ordinance allowing mini-trucks on public roadways would require a certain amount of responsibility for inspection and enforcement on behalf of the county.
“I just can’t see adding yet another layer of government that’s not necessary,” Pertler commented.
Fisher-Merritt explained that mini-trucks are not only environmentally friendly and energy efficient, they have less impact on public roadways than most vehicles and produce less damage than the Class 2
ATVs that are currently allowed to travel on road shoulders.
Pihlman remained unconvinced, however, and offered a motion to take no action on the matter at this time. The motion died for lack of a second, however. Brenner then offered a motion to approve the
ordinance, which was seconded by Commissioner Tom Proulx and passed by the board.
The county will now set the fees for the mini-truck vehicles, issue permits to drive on county roadways and conduct annual inspections.
• In other business, the board unanimously approved the issuance of a liquor license to LEEMO LLC for a restaurant and bar at the site of the former Lost Isle Restaurant and Bar in Twin Lakes Township. The new establishment, to be known as Northstar, will be operated by Nick Liimatainen of Esko. According to County Auditor Paul Gassert, the liabilities incurred by former Lost Isle proprietor Tim Rogentine will
remain his responsibility and will in no way carry over to the new business owner, who will be leasing the space from building owner Don Dens.
The liquor license for the new establishment will take effect pending a background check and final approval from the State Liquor Control Board.
• Finance Committee Chair Mike Stafford delivered a final report on the county 2010 budget unallotment status. He said the amount needed by the county for the second round of unallotments totaled $396,927. He indicated that the responsibility for cutting that amount was spread evenly throughout the county’s various departments, and while most were able to meet their assigned goal, three departments ultimately fell short.
One of those was the Carlton County Transfer Station, which Stafford said is a revenue producing venture that would result in reduced income to the county if forced to cut back by the suggested
amount of $12,727. Another department unable to meet its unallotment goals was the county assessor’s office, but Stafford indicated that the department will more than make up for it by eliminating one staff position following the retirement of one of its current employees in upcoming months. Finally, Stafford reported that the proposed $14,652 reduction in the county’s support of Arrowhead Regional Corrections cannot be made at this time since ARC indicated the organization can’t absorb that large a cut at this time.
Stafford said the final outcome will result in a fund balance increase of $68,154.