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Silverton residents reject push to allow OHVs in town

Residents of the mountain town affirmed a decision made two years ago
Voters in Silverton decided, once again, not to allow off-highway vehicles within town limits in a decisive vote Tuesday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Silverton residents voted Tuesday to reject an amendment to the municipal code that would have allowed off-highway vehicles on specified streets, including the town’s two busiest thoroughfares.

The “nays” captured victory in a landslide – albeit in an election in which 414 people voted. Of those electors, 286, or 69%, came out against the proposed amendment; 128 supported it.

Anyone driving an OHV through town can face a $300 fine and have their vehicle towed.

The vote came almost exactly two years after Silverton residents decided to ban OHVs from the town’s streets.

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Efforts to give OHVs the boot stemmed from complaints that they were noisy and congested the town. Silverton bustles on summer days with tourists, many of whom arrive by train. Residents say OHV drivers sometimes failed to yield to pedestrians and created traffic hazards.

But the push to ban OHVs has been opposed by many local business owners, who say that the move has precipitated a decline in revenue.

“My guess is, adjusted for inflation, we’re probably down about 30%,” business owner Paul Zimmerman told The Durango Herald last month.

Silverton is a popular destination for those who want to explore the maze of backcountry roads that traverse the San Juan Mountains surrounding the town.

OHVs are also banned from the first 1.5 miles of County Road 110, which extends northwest of town limits, per a 2022 vote of the San Juan County commissioners.

More information about driving OHVs around Silverton can be found on the town’s website.


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