“The main concern I have again is safety,” Creston City Councilman Rich Madison told the council during their golf cart ordinance discussion Tuesday. Madison was the sole vote against amending the all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles (ATVs and UTVs) city ordinance.
“This doesn’t even come to the level of the ATV/UTV as far as equipment on the golf cart,” Madison said. “I would think that at the minimum we would want the same type of equipment that we were going to let people run around on ATVs and UTVs, on a golf cart.”
The initial golf cart updates included requiring a slow-moving vehicle sign, a bike flag, registration, insurance and staying on roads 35 mph or slower.
Madison’s concerns were on the lack of requirement for headlights, taillights and brake lights - all of which are required on the updated ATV/UTV ordinance.
Councilwoman Kiki Scarberry pointed out surrounding citys’ ordinances typically restrict golf cart usage to daylight hours. “Headlights and taillights aren’t as necessary if they’re not riding them after dusk is my opinion on that,” she said. “If we’re going to require them to have headlights and taillights, then I don’t think that we should limit them to only sun up to sundown if they’re going to have to pay the money for the modifications. If the UTVs have those things and they can go past dark, then I think you have to let the golf carts go past dark if they had the same things.”
Council members Josh Thompson, Steve Wintermute and Brenda Keate all said they have no problem with allowing golf carts on the streets.
“I would say I’ve received a lot of comments - all but one were positive for this,” Wintermute said. “I guess we’re here to do what the people want.”
Keate asked Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer what his thoughts were on the addition of golf carts to city streets.
“I think they should be from dawn until dusk,” he said. “I’m not seeing a huge issue with safety reasons. Golf carts are not meant to be driven on city streets, but if that’s what the public wants to do, we’ll make do with it.”
Ver Meer said drivers would have to have their registration in the vehicle with them and the sticker would need to be displayed plainly on the cart. “It would probably be something similar to what the UTVs have on them with DNR which is color coded for the year with the year stamped on it and the expiration on the sticker so you know when the sticker expires.”
He also clarified that drivers would be required to follow all the rules of the road and would be subject to arrest for operating while under the influence if driving while impaired.
Should it pass, residents would need to bring their golf cart to the law enforcement center in Creston to be assessed by a police officer. They would need to transport the vehicle on a trailer rather than driving it while unregistered.
“I’m of a mixed opinion,” Councilwoman Jocelyn Blazek said. “I‘m not a huge fan of golf carts on city streets. Golf carts were intended for use on golf courses; however, Steve makes a really good point. I think a big part of our responsibility is we’re supposed to be the voice of the citizens who voted for us, and I have not heard anything from those citizens against this. I’m willing to be open-minded.”
Ver Meer recommended the council implement a season of use. “I would keep it out of the winter months,” he said. “Slow-moving vehicles are fine, but big moving vehicles do not stop on snow and ice.”
The council agreed on usage between March 15 and Nov. 15 with a $25 annual registration fee. In addition to the slow-moving vehicle sign and bike flag, brake lights would be required. Golf carts would only be able to be used during daytime hours. There was some discussion on too many violations or unpaid fines resulting in loss of the permit.
There will be continued discussion on the topic at the next council meeting, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.