Fort Thomas council committee files golf cart amendment for further consideration

Council members decided that more input was needed on whether to lower the age limit for golf carts on city streets.

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by Robin Gee, City Council Editor

The Fort Thomas City Council Law, Labor and Licensing Committee has decided to take a measured approach to a proposal to change the current golf cart rules to lower the age limit from 19 to 16 year. The committee tabled the matter so they could have more time to gather information and speak with residents.

The committee, chaired by a member of the board Connie Grubbs, includes board members Ben Pendery and Ken Bowman. A proposal from a council member Jeff Bezold would lower the age limit on the city’s current golf cart ordinance to 16.

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“I would like to see the local ordinance align more consistently with state law,” said Bezold, who owns a cart himself. a vehicle — these same people should earn the right to drive a golf cart. »

The council passed a golf cart ordinance in 2019. The language was based on state law allowing golf carts, but was adjusted to fit the situation in Fort Thomas, which has hilly topography and several state roads. One of the changes did not allow golf carts on city streets where the speed limit is over 30 miles per hour. State law allows them on roads up to 35 mph.

Bezold does not disagree with this departure from state law. “The reason is that two of our roads that are 35 mph are US 27 and Memorial Parkway. It just doesn’t make much sense to have golf carts on them.”

The previous Law, Labor and Licensing Committee spent several meetings exploring and discussing the golf cart ordinance. At the time, they recommended that the age limit be 19 because, they said, that would be a good, safe starting point for these new drivers to get used to navigating the city in motorized vehicles.

It’s time to review?

Bezold said he feels the city has had enough time to determine if a change is needed. “When we first issued this order to legalize golf carts two years ago in the fall of 2019, we said, give it some time and see if there were any issues” , did he declare.

“Now that two years have passed and we have a pretty good sample size, we have enough experience with this…No problems were reported by the police, so I thought it would be the right time to go ahead and bring it back in. Again, that would make it more compliant with state law.

Timing and data are the problem for board members Adam Blue. “We haven’t really had golf carts for that long. You can say two years, but really we had 10 golf carts the first year and 35 the next year, we’re just starting to study the effects … II just want a little more time for that reason,” he said.

Blau said his main concern was safety. He noted that he had witnessed adult drivers not using seat belts and other safety measures, and if adults do not obey all the rules, we cannot expect drivers to teenagers do. He said he doesn’t think drivers don’t have enough experience driving golf carts as transportation vehicles.

“All this time, my concern has been that no one has ever driven these vehicles anywhere other than on the golf course, so they are not considered vehicles. We have to change our whole mindset in order to adapt to driving with other vehicles on the road,” he said.

“No one can convince me they’re as safe as a car. You finish a golf cart at 20 miles per hour, whoever’s in the back is badly injured, not the same as in a car. He there are a lot of factors to consider.”

Still, he says, “I’m not 100% against it, I’d just like to spend a little more time with adults behind the wheel before putting someone who’s never been behind the wheel behind something like that is all.”

The committee’s decision

The request to review the proposal was added to the committee’s agenda on the Friday before its meeting the following Monday. It was expected that the committee could make a recommendation for first reading to council that evening.

Committee members said they felt this did not give them enough time to research and fully discuss such a significant change.

Pendery said his first reaction to Bezold’s request was that it made sense. “If you’re old enough to get a driver’s license, it sounds like you should definitely be old enough to drive a golf cart in our town. My gut reaction at first was that I don’t mind that,” he said. he declared.

“But I will say I want to hear from the community what they think about it. Obviously, from those who own the carts themselves. And, it’s important that we don’t burden our police officers, so I want to know where they stand . . And anyone else in the community with concerns.”

Grubbs agreed. “I have very little experience driving golf carts around town. We don’t have any…so I want to listen and hear what other people have to say about it. For me, 16 years old is old enough to drive a car, but I would love to reach out to schools and hear what they say about their kids driving golf carts to school. safety issues I have questions about seat belts, child restraints.

Bowman also weighed in, noting he leans toward opposing the idea of ​​a change over concerns about security and whether policing the issue might place too much of a burden on the police department. .

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey Kilgore added that any comments on whether or not there will be any issues in the future would be pure speculation.

The committee asks for more time

Pendery added: “I would just like to get some feedback. I would like anyone with a strong feeling one way or the other to weigh in. As a council member, I am a spokesperson for the community and i want to make sure we think about this… i think it can be done well and 16 year olds could safely use golf carts in fort thomas but i am definitely not the only one have a seat at the table, and I want to make sure we’re all in agreement before we make a decision.”

Grubbs decided that the committee would table the item to allow more time for comments and discussion.

Blau praised the committee’s handling of the issue. “I’m very proud of this committee because of the way it was thrown at them… The fact that the committee recognized that they needed to do more research on their own is commendable. That’s why they are the.”

On this point, Bezold agreed. “I spoke to Connie after the meeting. She is trying to do her due diligence because she has no experience with it. I can understand that… We had a conversation and we will continue the conversation. This is not It’s not a Jeff Bezold decision. It’s a board decision.

“We didn’t have consensus to pass it off the committee this week, and that’s fine with me,” Pendery said. “There’s nothing wrong with taking time and doing extra homework. And that’s how we left it at the end of the meeting. We talked as committee members, soliciting comments and come together to see where we are, where our concerns are, and if it’s something we can do, let’s absolutely do it.”

Council members urged residents with opinions on the age change or other comments on the golf cart ordinance to contact committee members or any of the council members.