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ATV Survey Results Are In

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The results are in and show that the majority of households in the Royal Highlands area approve of relaxed restrictions on ATVs. The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will revisit the matter on July 9.

County Ordinance 2023-05, passed in May 2023, prohibits ATV riders from operating on any public roadways, paved or unpaved. Several residents in northwest Hernando County addressed the BOCC recently, urging the board to repeal the ordinance as it limits freedom and has resulted in riders being detained by law enforcement.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) conducted a survey that ran from May 23 to June 5, 2024, to gather information on residents’ opinions on the current rules in place. HCSO mailed 13,761 surveys to households with at least one registered voter residing in an area north of SR 50 / Cortez Boulevard and west of SR 589 / Suncoast Parkway.

Residents submitted 1,799 surveys. Approximately 49 percent of respondents voted that ATV enforcement should be decreased. Sixty-six percent responded that ATVs should be allowed on certain unpaved roads.
HCSO released the following information on the survey.

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Question 1 – ATV Enforcement
– is exactly where it needs to be (no change needed): 253
– needs to be decreased (there should be less ATV traffic stops/citations): 888
– needs to be increased (there should be more ATV traffic stops/citations): 585
– I have no opinion on this subject: 73
Total Responses: 1799

Question 2 – Personal Stance on ATV Operation
– should be allowed on certain county unpaved roads (legal from 2017-2023): 1180
– should NOT be allowed on certain county unpaved roads (current law): 566
– No opinion on whether off-road vehicles should be allowed on county dirt roads: 53
Total Responses: 1799

We received many questions from citizens regarding the survey. Although we attempted to reach out and answer everyone, in case we missed yours, below you will find a list of the questions we received and the general answers to each.

Question: Why did you choose those precincts/that area of the county?
Answer:
– This area of the county has recently been very vocal about ATVs (both for and against)
– This area of the county has a large enough population to get a sufficient sample size in response to a survey to provide more valid results
– This area has a number of dirt roads and is somewhat rural, thereby making ATV usage (for or against) a concern for local residents.

Question: Why did you not send surveys to everyone in the county?
Answer: Regardless of outcome, the residents in that area (particularly those who do not like the outcome) would likely be upset that citizens in a densely populated subdivision were able to complete a survey regarding an issue that does not directly impact their neighborhood like it does a more rural area (those upset with the outcome could say, “Why should someone in a gated community have a say regarding ATVs when they are not impacted”).

Question: I live in that area and did not get a postcard.
Answer:
– First, use the voter lookup tool at the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections by visiting the following link:
– Hernando County Voter Lookup Tool -https://www.hernandovotes.gov/Voters/Voter-Lookup-Tool
Determine if you are registered to vote in one of the listed precincts (300, 310, 320, 330).
If you are not registered to vote in one of those precincts, your household would not have received a postcard.
If you are registered in one of those precincts, make sure your mailing address is correct (The mail company rejected or the United States Post Office returned almost 300 postcards as undeliverable, moved, etc.).
If your address is correct, you are welcome to contact Community Relations. They will be happy to research your concerns to see if you were on the master mailing list supplied by the Supervisor of Elections and/or to see if your card was returned as
undeliverable.

Question: I have more than one voter in my house, why were we not allowed to vote more than once per household?
Answer: Much like the question regarding the geographical boundaries of the survey, a decision had to be made on this issue as well. Due to the large number of surveys that were sent out and the relatively large number of surveys that were returned, we feel comfortable that if additional cards were sent to this same area, the outcome would not have material differences (see the confidence level information above).

Although there would have likely been a few more surveys returned, it would be statistically impossible for those additional responses to significantly change the percentage of each response. It would not be appropriate to assume, for example, that a majority of the extra voters in those houses that did respond would feel differently, on average, than those who actually completed the survey.
It is important for ATV owners to remember that it is currently illegal to ride on private property without the permission of the property owner.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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