By Marcy Stamper
A hearing has been scheduled in Okanogan County Superior Court on March 11 to consider a request to declare two county ordinances that opened hundreds of miles of roads to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) invalid because the county did not first determine if the roads were safe or suitable for ATVs.
The Methow Valley Citizens’ Council and Conservation Northwest filed a request for summary judgment in January, claiming that the facts of the case require the court to invalidate the ordinances. They also claim that the county failed to notify people of the potential environmental impact of allowing ATVs to use the roads.
If the judge determines that some of the facts are in dispute, the case will proceed to a trial, and the plaintiffs and county will submit testimony, evidence and more legal filings, according to Dave Mann, the plaintiffs’ attorney.
The lawsuit challenges two ordinances passed at the end of July 2013 by the county commissioners. The first ordinance opened 635 miles of roads across the county, some with speed limits up to 50 miles per hour (mph), to ATVs.
The second ordinance, passed four days later, opened all county roads with a 35-mph speed limit to ATVs. That ordinance was approved one day after a state law took effect restricting the vehicles to roads with speeds of 35 mph or lower. The second ordinance also declared that all roads opened previously would remain open to ATVs.
Okanogan County has not yet submitted a response to the plaintiffs’ request for summary judgment. The county has until Feb. 28 to respond, said Mann.
After receiving the plaintiffs’ initial complaint in September, the county stated that the commissioners had exercised their constitutional right to make and enforce local laws and that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate they had been harmed by the ordinances.
The hearing for summary judgment is scheduled before Superior Court Judge Chris Culp on March 11 at 2:30 p.m.