Villa Rica Mayor Gil McDougal vetoed action taken Thursday by the city council at its February 8 regular meeting.
The action, an amendment to the ordinance, was approved by a 3-2 vote. If allowed to stand, the ordinance would have allowed PTVs to operate on city streets with speed limits 35 miles per hour or less. The purpose of this amendment was to allow PTV owners access to more city streets.
“While I am generally in favor of maximum golf cart use throughout Villa Rica, being a strong proponent of the East Side Connector which will connect the east side of Villa Rica to downtown and include a golf cart path designated, I cannot support a general increase in speed limits on which golf carts can travel through the city,” Mayor Gil McDougal said in his veto statement. “Whether acknowledged or not, this law really doesn’t pertain to ‘golf carts’ per se, because state law defines golf carts as being for use on golf courses or for driving to the courses. golf and back and they are limited to speeds not exceeding 15 mph by law.”
Councilman Danny Carter spoke in favor of the amendment at the council meeting, saying the original plan was for Villa Rica to be a “golf cart friendly neighborhood” by providing passing lanes for golf carts, but that disappeared when the economy declined.
Capt. Keith Shaddix of the Villa Rica Police Department also spoke at the council meeting, saying he thought changing the speed limit was dangerous.
Some of the concerns mentioned were impatient drivers trying to pass golf carts that can only go about 20 miles per hour and children on golf carts and potentially driving.
“Any PTV on the roadway over 20 mph is illegal to begin with. The State of Georgia deems these vehicles traveling on roads with a speed limit greater than 25 not suitable for their roads. Vehicles backing up behind PTVs not exceeding 20 mph on a road with a 35 mph limit pose an increased risk,” McDougal also said in his veto statement. “Staff advised against this change. The police department, responsible for keeping our community and our streets safe, has advised against this change. Every citizen who spoke in the public comments pleaded against this change. I will always stand by our police officers and the safety of our citizens. »
The veto will keep the ordinance as is, with PTVs only allowed on city streets at 25 miles per hour or less.
The city charter gives the mayor the power to veto any act of the council, a power unique to other West Georgia chief executives. The charter specifies that four council members must vote to override the mayor’s veto to ensure the council’s action takes effect.
This is the second time in his term that McDougal has used his power of veto. On August 28, 2020, McDougal vetoed an amendment to the city’s anti-smoking ordinance that had passed three days prior.
In this case, the Villa Rica Board failed to override McDougal’s veto.