Fairbanks to vote on banning snowmachines in residential areas

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A proposed snowmachine ban will go on the ballot in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The borough clerk has accepted petition signatures to put the issue on the October municipal ballot. The ban would apply to core residential areas of the borough.

Supporters of the ban say it will make local trails safer for runners and skiers, but snowmachine users are vowing a fight.

Stan Justice organized the petition drive and gathered more than the required 1,689 signatures to bring the issue to a vote.

It is Justice's second attempt to bring the ban before voters. Last year, his request for an initiative was rejected by the borough clerk, so this year's proposal is a rewrite. One change between this year and last year is that the initiative involves only snowmachines, not all-terrain vehicles.

John Johnston, president of Fairbanks Snow Travelers, said his group has begun raising money to oppose the measure and is seeking support from other snowmachining groups.

''We are definitely going to fight this tooth and nail.'' Johnston said.

Before the issue gets to the voters, the Borough Assembly must hold a public hearing to decide whether the borough can implement the new law should it pass. But that won't stop an election, according to the borough clerk.

State law requires the public hearing because the initiative seeks to create a new borough power. If the proposal is approved by voters, it would be enforced by city police and Alaska State Troopers, just like the borough curfew, Justice said.

''If the Borough Assembly says, 'No, we have no ability to implement this,' it would be a strike against us,'' Justice said.

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