Bloomfield council approves OHVs on city streets

Joshua Kellogg
Darryl Dunlap, owner and operator of Dunlap Performance and Motorsports, talks on April 28 at his shop in Farmington about how to make an off-highway vehicle side by side street legal.

FARMINGTON — The Bloomfield City Council has approved using off-highway vehicles on city streets, making it easier for riders to access nearby trails.

Council members approved an ordinance authorizing the use of recreational off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles on city roads during a meeting on Aug. 22.

The council first discussed the ordinance during a July 26 meeting in which councilors chose to proceed with adopting a new state law that took effect in May.

Gov. Susana Martinez signed the bill authorizing the use of off-highway vehicles on paved roads on March 9.

Bloomfield's ordinance is mostly in line with the state law, according to City Manager Eric Strahl.

He said Randy Foster, chief of the Bloomfield Police Department, clarified certain parts of the ordinance to account for U.S Highways 64 and 550, which the city does not manage. People can drive OHVs across the highways, but they are not permitted to drive them along the highways.

"We added additional language to make sure it was clear to people," Strahl said.

Foster previously told The Daily Times that OHVs are required to have headlights and taillights.

Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl, left, participates in a community meeting May 20 at the Bloomfield Multicultural Center. Bloomfield City Councilors have approved extending Strahl’s contract for a second year.

The new ordinance could increase access to off-road trails and attract more people to the city, Councilor Matt Pennington said.

"I think it’s great. We got a lot of great off-road trails around Bloomfield that are way underused," Pennington said.

Councilors on Aug. 22 also approved extending Strahl’s contract for a second year. According to board paperwork, the new contract started Aug. 17 and ends on Aug. 16, 2017, with a salary of $100,000, plus benefits.

Due to the city's budgetary issues, Strahl said he declined a monthly vehicle allowance of $850.

Strahl said his top priority in the coming year will be to deal with a drop in tax revenue from gross receipts taxes, which forced the city to cut about $1.3 million from its current budget.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.