Mini-truck owner awaits ordinance

Published 6:30 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

Steve Hovda may soon be able to drive his mini-truck in Mower County. He’s just not sure where else he’ll be able to drive it.

Hovda, owner of Steven Hovda Insurance in Grand Meadow, bought a mini-truck from a dealer in Montana, but he was not able to license the vehicle before the state of Minnesota stopped giving out licenses on the vehicles.

Hovda contacted people on the state level, and couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get the vehicle registered.

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The state recently delegated licensing decisions on mini-trucks to local jurisdiction. The Mower County Board of Commissioners discussed a mini-truck ordinance Tuesday and will hold a public hearing about the issue.

“It’s really crazy that every county and municipality in the state issues a different rule,” Hovda said. “We should try to have some uniformity in rules and in applications or permits.”

The most difficult part of owning a mini-truck is that lack of uniformity. Hovda finally got his mini-truck registered as a type two all terrain vehicle, but he was then stopped by a state patrol officer who told Hovda he didn’t have the right kind of tires on the vehicle.

Hovda has kept his mini-truck parked in his garage ever since.

If it’s approved, Hovda plans to bring a copy of the county ordinance to the Grand Meadow City Council in hopes of getting a similar ordinance in the town. He said he hopes to keep the process as simple as possible.

Hovda’s 2000 Suzuki Carry was imported from Japan and has a steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle and most are white.

The mini-truck, also known as a Kei truck, gets about 45 miles to the gallon, and Hovda said he’s driven his comfortably at 55 mph.

Part of the benefit of the mini-truck is saving money on gas because Hovda said the mini-truck gets about 45 miles to per gallon. He bought his mini-truck used, so it was an affordable way to keep from accumulating miles on his other vehicles.

Hovda and his wife also take care of the outdoor flowers at their church in the summer, and he planned to use it while caring for them. He planned to use the mini-truck for errands like hauling branches and driving in the area to visit family, mostly within in five miles of Grand Meadow, he said.

Hovda knows of people who own and operate mini-trucks in Stewartville and Rochester.

Al Oehlke, a retired farmer from Grand Meadow, owns a mini-truck that he uses to drive around the area. He described it as a vehicle he puts a lot of miles on without going to far from home.

“I just use it driving around from place to place,” Al said.

Oehlke licensed his mini-truck before the state changed the law, and his has a license plate. He said he’s passed police officers driving his mini-truck and has never had any problems.

Under new state laws, the mini-trucks can’t be operated on state or federal highways, but can be operated on county and township roads under the rules of a county ordinance.