People are now allowed to drive ATVs on streets in the town of Clay with a new permit.

The ordinance went into place at the beginning of the year and looks to bring more people to the town that was hurt by the loss of the coal industry.

"I've noticed a lot of other small towns with our demographic and economic set up pushed towards ATV trails, as well," Mayor Josh Shamblin said. "We've started developing the trails, but what I've been hearing from these groups that ride is that they wanted the ability to come off the trails and refuel, or get food and take a break, or get lodging, but it was illegal."

Shamblin said other towns in the area have gotten big boosts from tourists coming for recreational activity. He hopes allowing people to drive ATVs on the road will bring more people into town and spent money at local businesses.

"Other towns have seen an increase in tourism and economic activity," Shamblin said. "It's worth a shot with us. I know there are going to be hiccups to begin with, but I've just seen it work with so many of these other small towns that I figured we really need to take a shot at this in order to grow."

One of those businesses already seeing a boost from people coming to use the biking and hiking trails is the Clay Inn. Owner Rene Moore said kayaking on the Elk River has also brought more people to town.

"I think it will be great for the local businesses, from the small hotels to the restaurants to the gas stations," Moore said. "The ATV ordinance will be great because there are three really good areas that people can head from central town in different directions, make loops, and just overall I think it will be good for everybody."

Shamblin said the increase in traffic could help bring more small businesses to Main Street and rebuild the economy.

The permits cost $35 for a year pass or $15 for a weekend pass and can be purchased at Town Hall. All riders must follow all state regulations, including speed limits and having proper insurance.

Shamblin said the town hopes to use that additional revenue to rebuild the police force that currently does not exist. He also plans to open a municipal court system.

Shamblin said some people are afraid that the ATVs might bring too much noise to the quiet town, but he thinks too much noise is better than none.

"We've got a choice where we can be such a peaceful quiet town that we die or we can accept a little bit of activity that's going to help us grow," Shamblin said. "That's the only two choices that we have."