Local resident Richard Burke collected signatures in 2017 to make ATV use legal on Petersburg streets. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg’s assembly hasn’t taken any action to block the move – so ATVs and other all purpose vehicles are legal to drive on any street with a speed limit of under 45 miles an hour in 2022.

That’s a statewide change in regulations that took effect on January 1st. Local governments are allowed to opt out but Petersburg’s assembly hasn’t made that decision. Assembly members heard from police chief Jim Kerr Monday that ATVs need to be registered and insured and will be treated like other vehicles.

“So if people want to start driving recklessly, like I said, we’re going to impound them if they want to run from the police on their quad they’re going to get arrested, just like you would with any other vehicle,” Kerr told the assembly. “I see the people who are going to be using this. I see it as a benefit. They might use it to run down to the harbor really quick. They might use it to transport their hunting stuff back and forth. So I don’t see an issue at this point. I guess time will tell if there’s an issue or how the community reacts to it.”

In 2017 voters said no to a local law that would have allowed off-highway vehicles on local streets with a local registration sticker and other requirements. Two years later the assembly voted against making a similar change. Now it’s allowed throughout Alaska with the exception of Sitka and some other larger communities that have opted out.

Several Petersburg assembly members thought it should go back on the ballot.

Jeff Meucci asked to have the discussion and said he wanted to find out the will of his colleagues.

“You know if we wanted to refer this possibly to the public safety advisory board to have them look at it and see,” Meucci said. You know like the chief said Sitka’s opted out of it, or do we want to just see how it all goes here and if everybody is playing by the rules and they’re licensed and insured and turn signals are working that’s all fine but I just wanted it to be a discussion item so that we are at least aware of it in case we wanted to do something different.”

ATV users need a drivers license and can be ticketed like other motorists. The only road with a speed limit over 45 is Mitkof Highway, so that’s the only road where ATVs are not allowed. The change does not allow snow machines on local streets.