BELLE, WV (WOWK) – The first of four public hearings on possibly allowing off-road vehicles on public roads was held Wednesday night in Belle, West Virginia, and quite a few concerns were brought up.

Kanawha County Planner and Project Manager Cassidy Riley says they’re still in the early phase of assessing what changes could be made to allow off-road vehicles on public roads. This is why they’re looking to the public for a different perspective.

In these small communities, we see a lot of off-road recreation and off-road use of these types of vehicles, so we wanted to bring this type of conversation to the communities where it was actually important and pertinent.

Cassidy Riley, Kanawha County Planner and Project Manager

One of the big items discussed in the hearing was restrictions referring to what roads can be traveled on and who is allowed behind the wheel.

Many say before any permanent changes are made, they’d want to make sure drivers are old enough to have a driver’s license. Two-lane roads and residential neighborhoods were also brought up as areas where having off-road vehicles could be a problem.

However, after the hearing, residents I spoke with say they believe the current laws in place aren’t effective.

They don’t enforce them anyway. They let us go out and let us go up to the filling station and fill up and then come down and we can go up Kelly’s Creek there.

John Eskew, Cedar Grove resident

Locals also asked questions about what the economic impact will be specifically for smaller towns like Belle.

Riley asked the attendees if they’d be okay with tailored restrictions in certain areas. They responded by saying “Yes.”

The planning commission’s next hearing will be Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Sharon Dawes Elementary School.

The other hearing dates are as follows:

  • May 16th- Clendenin Community Center, 103 1st Avenue, Clendenin, 25045 5:30-7:00 p.m.
  • May 19th- Hansford Center, 500 Washington St, St Albans, WV 25177 5:30-7:00 p.m.

There will be a public vote after all the hearings.