Golf cart hitches that provide extra space for coolers and passengers may be trendier these days, but South Haven City officials are reluctant to allow them on city streets.
Council members will be determining over the next few months whether to allow golf cart operators to hitch trailers to their carts.
“We have been advised by police that there is now a golf cart hitch for additional seating and coolers,” City Manager Kate Hosier told council members earlier this month at their meeting on the 7th november. “Nothing prohibits this, but knowing a potential change, we wanted to put this in front of the board to avoid these snags.”
Council members agree.
“I have a real problem with the hitch extensions,” council member Joe Reeser said. “Any time you pull something, making turns is a whole different thing. I would be very concerned about golf carts pulling them.
Council Member Jeff Arnold agreed, expressing concern about golf cart operators trying to back up their hitch extensions in parking spaces, downtown or elsewhere in the city.
In 2016, city council members agreed to allow golf carts to operate within city limits. Over the years, however, the Golf Cart Ordinance has been revised to require golf carts to be equipped with seat belts, mirrors, brakes, lights, and turn signals. Revisions to the ordinance, passed in 2020, also state that golf cart owners insure their vehicles, register them with the South Haven Police Department, obtain city-issued vehicle plates and limit the number of people in carts to the number of seats contained in each vehicle.
Not allowing golf cart hitches will most likely result in the latest revisions to the golf cart ordinance, as well as a request from golf cart owners in the city to change the time of year that people can legally drive carts on city streets.
“City staff have received a number of requests for extended hours of operation as well as golf cart opening dates,” Hosier told council members at their meeting earlier this month. .
Last summer, eleven golf cart owners submitted a petition to city staff asking for extended dates and hours of operation.
But, according to state law regulating golf carts, vehicles can only be driven between one-half hour after sunrise and one-half hour before sunset.
“Hours of operation are set by state law and therefore cannot be extended by the city council,” Hosier said. However, the city may change the season to allow golf carts to be driven on city streets. Currently, the city ordinance only allows golf carts to be driven from April 15 through October 15. The petitioners hope the city will change the dates from April 1 to October 30.
“Since we have such unpredictable weather, it is unreasonable to stick with April 15 to October 15,” the petitioners wrote, noting that sometimes spring weather arrives earlier than April 15 and the warmer weather lasts beyond October 15.
Council members seemed supportive of the idea, with some even suggesting that golf carts could be run year-round.
“I would be in favor of them all year round,” said board member Steve Schlack, indicating that he periodically uses golf carts at his marina business to haul items, which sometimes involves using the streets. from the nearby town.
However, Council Member George Sleeper was reluctant to allow golf carts year-round.
“I prefer to do a gradual expansion rather than the whole year,” he said.
Other board members questioned whether extending the golf cart season would require the police department to enforce the restrictions imposed by the orders.
In response, Hosier said the possibility of extending the golf cart season has been discussed with the police department.
“I don’t think it would be too much of a burden on the police,” she said. “We see different traffic volumes at these times of the year,” she added, referring to the heavy influx of tourists to South Haven during the summer months, rather than the shoulder seasons of the spring and fall.