Town Moves Closer To Imposing Scooter Rules

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Payson is moving closer to regulating the use of motorized play vehicles, targeting those that are gasoline powered for greater restrictions.

The town council met for a workstudy session Thursday night to get input from the public and the town attorneys on how to have some regulation on vehicles such as motorized skateboards and scooters.

The primary necessity for the ordinance is the noise and safety issues surrounding children and teenagers and their motorized skateboards.

"We had 17 calls last year regarding scooters," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said. "Five were noise-related and 12 were safety concerns. We had one accident with injuries and another one where an individual had his 3-year-old with him. He fell off the scooter and the 3-year-old was hurt."

The first issue Deputy Town Attorney Tim Wright addressed was the fact that the vehicles specified in the draft ordinance, by definition, lack a seat, which means electric scooters are not covered.

"It is a very limited group of vehicles that we are talking about," Deputy Town Attorney Tim Wright said. "The primary feature of these vehicles is that they do not have a seat -- they have a deck that you stand on."

Many of the council members expressed their opinion that the gas-powered vehicles deserved more regulation than electric because of noise concerns and modifications that make them go more than 30 mph.

"I would go along with taking the electric ones and put them under the bike laws," Council Judy Buettner said.

Councilor Bryan Siverson said he thought they should be separated.

"This ordinance is good as far as the gas-powered ones are concerned," he said. "They are a noise issue and kids should be older -- there is gasoline in there."

"We could incorporate these motorized play vehicles under the same requirements that bicycles have to follow," Councilor Robert Henley said.

The council unanimously agreed that parents must bear the ultimate responsibility for the children who have motorized play vehicles.

"I like some of the ordinances in the Valley where the parent fills out a form giving their child permission to use the vehicle," Mayor Ken Murphy said. "It puts the onus on the parent. I think government tries to be parents too many times."

"Some jurisdictions, like Glendale and Phoenix, do that," Wright said. "If you are under 18, you have to basically have a note from your mom or dad to operate it."

"I like the way Glendale has done it," Councilor Dick Wolfe said. "It forces the parents to get involved by requiring a notarized statement that they must carry with them. It says the minor and parents have read and discussed the city regulations."

"Do make the parents responsible for the actions of their children," Mayoral candidate Jim Chase urged the council.

Although there were a few members of the public, most were candidates in the upcoming primary election, including -- Chase, George Barriger, Diana Sexton and Tim Fruth.

"I was going to watch it at home on TV," Fruth said. "But at 5:30 p.m., I had to tell a bunch of kids on (motorized play vehicles) at the middle school to get off school grounds -- they were driving them on the fields. So, I decided to come."

The council directed Wright to craft a similar ordinance that would cover the gas-powered motorized play vehicles. The electric versions would fall under regulations that govern bicycles.

The ordinance goes back to council for a second reading at their regular meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at town hall.

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