Vehicles prohibited on Pigeon River Pond
Ban implemented during lake drawdown
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville City Council passed an ordinance to prohibit the use of motorized recreational vehicles on Pigeon River Pond within city limits during the ongoing lake drawdown.
Prior to approving the new ordinance at the Nov. 13 city council meeting, the council suspended the rules so it could skip the first reading and move directly to a second reading of the ordinance.
Alderwoman Tammy Strey-Hirt said it is important for snowmobilers and ATV riders to stay off Pigeon River Pond because stumps and other dangers have been exposed by the absence of water.
“Once there is snow covering, if people go out there they could get extremely hurt,” Strey-Hirt said. “So that’s the reason we want to suspend the rules and have only one reading, so we can get the ordinance passed before there is a lot of snow on the Pigeon Lake.”
Alderman Jim Supanich added that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources told the city that the DNR’s jurisdiction is only for the water surface.
“It was implied that the homeowners or the city, whoever owns the land along that area of the pond shoreline, their land now extends to the bank of the river,” Supanich said. “That would put people in a liable situation possibly if somebody hit a stump on their property. And they may not know they are even in that situation.”
Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer was asked if that is accurate.
“There’s a good argument that you always own to the ordinary high water mark,” Steckbauer said. “So that is a legitimate concern.”
Clintonville Mayor Richard Beggs asked if the Clintonville Police Department is prepared to enforce the ordinance.
“If we can definitely have proof and identify the operator of the vehicle and it’s in violation of the passed ordinance where it’s associated with a penalty clause, we can issue a municipal citation under that ordinance to get that job done,” Clintonville Police Chief James Beggs said. “The problem would be we will not take our vehicles out into that area to pursue anyone. So the gathering of sufficient evidence to issue that citation may be a problem.”
James Beggs suggested the city provide proper signage about the ordinance and barricades at the points of access to the Pigeon River Pond.
He also asked if the ordinance is set to expire at a specified date in the future after water has filled the pond.
Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland said an expiration date was not included in the ordinance because the city did not want the date to fall before the Pigeon River dam repairs are concluded. Possible delays in that project would determine when the project finishes.
“Basically what will happen is when everything is done, we’ll come back and repeal [the ordinance],” Eveland said.
The council approved the ordinance by an 8-0 vote. Aldermen Chuck Manske and Brad Rokus were excused from the meeting.