With golf carts not included in the updated Creston city ordinance allowing all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles (ATVs and UTVs)to be driven inside the city, residents asked the council to consider making the addition.
After lengthy council discussion at their Oct. 20 meeting, the council voted Tuesday on the first reading of the proposed golf cart ordinance.
The council was divided as three of the seven voted no. Richard Madison, Matt Levine and Jocelyn Blazek have all previously cited safety as a reason for hesitancy on allowing the slow-moving vehicles on the road.
“I would be extremely remiss if we include golf carts in this,” Levine said at their September meeting. “I’d like to exclude that. I do not want to include those for us.”
Madison’s message has been unchanged as he also voted no for the ATV/UTV ordinance. “My biggest concern is safety,” he said.
Though Blazek has not wanted to allow golf carts, she was open to the idea if that’s what constituents wanted; however, she cited recent conversations as a reason for her no vote.
“Since the last time we were here, I’ve been contacted by some of the residents of my ward who voiced their opposition to this particular ordinance, and I don’t completely disagree,” she told the council. “Individually, golf carts are probably no less safe than other vehicles on the road, but I do have concerns that collectively, the more slow-moving vehicles we put on the road, the more likely it is that there are going to be accidents.”
Blazek also cited concerns about liability. “With the ATV/UTV, because that’s a state code, that’s on the state and the county,” she said. “This would be completely on the city.”
Councilwoman Kiki Scarberry has been vocal in her support of ATVs, UTVs and golf carts since the beginning. At their September meeting, Scarberry questioned the difference in safety between a golf cart and a four wheeler. “They would have to be treated equally,” she said. “As far as safety goes, I think we really have to sit back and ask ourselves what the community wants because that’s our job. Our job is not to save them from themselves. I don’t think the numbers justify saying it’s just not safe.”
During the public hearing prior to the vote, several residents spoke in favor of the ordinance. John Giza said the ordinance was well-written and urged the council to approve the ordinance. Carey Lynam and Rick Scarberry voiced similar sentiments.
Written correspondence against the ordinance came in from JoAnn Larkin Bradley. “We have laws requiring seat belt usage in vehicles that already do provide some protection to our bodies and also laws requiring special car seats for all children up to a certain age and body size for extra protection for them. Golf carts have neither,” the letter stated. “Think of the accidents we read about already that are caused by distracted drivers.”
The ordinance will face two more votes as the council must approve the second and third reading before it is officially approved. If the votes were to switch, the ordinance would not be approved. From there, the council would either need to rework the ordinance and start the process over or the ordinance would be tabled.
While ATVs and UTVs are much less limited on time of usage, golf carts would be restricted to March 1 to Nov. 1 with golf carts only allowed from sunrise to sunset.
The ordinance requires golf cart drivers to be at least 18 years old and have a valid operator’s license. The number of passengers cannot exceed the number of seats in the cart.
Golf carts will be prohibited from driving upon any city streets with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or greater. In Creston, Highways 25 and 34, will be off limits, though they are allowed to cross over the aforementioned streets.
In addition to those highways, carts will not be allowed on trails, sidewalks or in city parks.
In order to use a golf cart on city streets, the vehicle must pass a safety inspection by the Creston Police Department, obtain a City of Creston Permit and have the following criteria:
- A slow-moving vehicle sign
- A bicycle safety flag, the top of which shall be a minimum of 5 ft from ground level, and extend a minimum of 2 ft above the highest point of the golf cart
- Brake lights
- Adequate brakes to stop and hold the cart in a stopped position
- Liability insurance (minimum of $300,000) in coverage
Violations of the provisions will result in a misdemeanor. First time offenders will be subject to a $100 fine and revocation of the permit for a six month period. Second time offenders will be subject to a fine of $300 and permanent revocation. Permits may also be revoked by the police chief as a result of any violation.
The council will meet at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6 for their next meeting where they will vote on the second reading of the ordinance.