Council discusses golf cart regulations

Oct. 20 – “The main concern I have again is safety,” Creston Councilman Rich Madison told council during their discussion of the golf cart ordinance on Tuesday. Madison was the lone vote against changing the city’s All-Terrain and Utility Vehicle (ATV and UTV) ordinance.

“It doesn’t even come to the ATV/UTV level when it comes to golf cart equipment,” Madison said. “I think at a minimum we would want the same type of equipment that we were going to let people race on ATVs and UTVs, on a golf cart.”

Initial golf cart updates included requiring a slow-moving vehicle sign, bicycle flag, registration, insurance, and staying on roads at 35 mph or less.

Madison’s concerns centered on the lack of requirements for headlights, taillights and brake lights—all of which are required in the updated ATV/UTV ordinance.

Councilor Kiki Scarberry pointed out that surrounding town ordinances generally restrict the use of golf carts to daylight hours. “Headlights and taillights aren’t as necessary if they don’t drive them past dusk, that’s my opinion on that,” she said. “If we’re going to require them to have headlights and taillights, then I don’t think we should limit them to just sun to sun if they have to pay the money for the modifications. If UTVs have those things and they can stay overnight, so I think you have to let the golf carts stay overnight if they had the same things.”

Council members Josh Thompson, Steve Wintermute and Brenda Keate all said they had no problem allowing golf carts on the streets.

“I would say I got a lot of feedback – all but one were positive for it,” Wintermute said. “I guess we’re here to do what people want.”

Keate asked Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer what he thought of adding golf carts to city streets.

“I think they should be dawn to dusk,” he said. “I don’t see a huge problem with safety reasons. Golf carts aren’t meant to be driven on city streets, but if that’s what the public wants to do, we’ll stick with it.”

Ver Meer said drivers should have their license plate in the vehicle with them and the sticker should be displayed clearly on the cart. “It would probably be something similar to what 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 said drivers would be required to follow all rules of the road and would be subject to arrest for driving under the influence if they were driving impaired.

If this were to pass, residents would have to bring their golf carts to the Creston Law Enforcement Center to be assessed by a police officer. They would need to transport the vehicle on a trailer rather than drive it unregistered.

“I’m of mixed opinion,” Councilwoman Jocelyn Blazek said. “I’m not a big fan of golf carts on city streets. Golf carts were meant to be used on golf courses, but Steve brings up a really good point. I think a lot of our responsibility is that we are supposed to be the voice of the citizens who voted for us, and I have not heard anything from those citizens against that. I am prepared to be open-minded.

Ver Meer recommended that the council implement a season of use. “I would keep it out of the winter months,” he said. “Slow vehicles are fine, but large moving vehicles won’t stop on snow and ice.”

The board agreed to use between March 15 and November 15 with an annual registration fee of $25. In addition to the slow moving vehicle sign and the bicycle flag, brake lights would be required. Golf carts could only be used during the day. There have been discussions about too many violations or unpaid fines resulting in the loss of the permit.

The discussion will continue on the subject at the next council meeting, November 1 at 6 p.m.