After hearing from upset citizens at their Monday night meeting, Dearing City Council agreed to consider establishing an ordinance allowing residents to drive golf carts on city roads. The issue, however, is more complicated than people realize, according to Mayor Sean Kelley.
Several residents said they received warnings from a McDuffie County deputy for driving their carts on the streets, including the state highway. Many have said that biking around town has been a fun family activity in recent years.
Kelley said he began looking into the issue after being approached by a resident who received one of the warnings. He said he learned that without an order allowing citizens to continue the practice, it is a matter of public safety and law enforcement is doing their job. Driving golf carts on the state highway would additionally require the installation of state-approved golf cart crossings on the state highway.
Kelley said he’s already spoken to Thomson Police Chief Courtney Gale and the City of Harlem, who have such orders, and found out there are significant requirements, including what equipment needs to be installed on a golf cart to qualify, inspection process and insurance requirements. for the cart owner.
Kelley told the group that even if the city council starts working on an ordinance immediately, it could take up to 90 days to write it up and get it approved to allow golf carts on city roads. If they also want to allow state highway level crossings, those would also require approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation before installation, which could take even longer.
“We have to figure out who’s going to do the permitting and who’s going to do the inspections, and there’s just a lot to do,” Kelley said. “I know that on the outside it looks very simple, quick and easy. It’s not.”
Kelley said the permit fee should factor in contracting someone — perhaps the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office — to perform the inspections and issue the permits.
Golf carts, he said, would only be allowed to travel at a maximum speed of 25 mph, meaning they still could not be used on North Main Street and South Main Street. Kelley said the city may consider lowering the speed limit on those roads and others as part of the ordinance-making effort. Even if an ordinance is approved, side-by-side vehicles will remain banned from city roads, primarily due to their ability to travel at significantly higher speeds.
With such a lengthy process ahead before potentially passing such an ordinance, several of the residents in attendance urged Kelley to ask the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office to stop issuing warnings and/or citations in the interim.
It was a request that Kelley refused to honor.
“This is the way I see it. The City of Dearing did not issue warnings and we were not told to do so. It’s between whoever has the problem and the sheriff’s department,” he said. “We desperately need the MPs in town, and I appreciate what they are doing. Why golf carts have become such a hot topic is, excuse me, beyond me. I do not know.”
Council members agreed to begin considering what would be required to pass an order before moving on to other business.
- Recreation Department – Reports increased attendance and learns that two of the basketball teams have become district champions. They also learned that baseball and softball registrations are going well. The department is also about to begin remodeling buildings in Sweetwater Park.
- Cleanup Day – The annual Community Cleanup Day will be held March 26 at Eubanks Park. Only city residents will be allowed to bring materials for the spill. No tires will be allowed. Access begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues until noon, or when full, which usually occurs around 11:30 a.m.
- Neighborhood watch — A first meeting date for setting up neighborhood watch will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 28 at the community building. Neighborhoods must have designated groups and block captains selected for the meeting.
- Easter Egg Hunt – The annual organized Easter Egg Hunt – sponsored by local churches – will be held at the walking track on April 16, with an exact time pending.