Tuesday, October 24th, 2017
Golf cart law change picks up speed
Plan allows use in more areas
By William Kincaid
CELINA - City council members on Monday night unanimously advanced to second reading legislation that would amend a new multiuse vehicle law, allowing permitted drivers to use the vehicles on city streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.
As the law stands now, golf carts and similar vehicles can be used on city streets with a speed limit of no more than 25 mph.
However, city officials will not exempt people living in certain parts of town, such as those living along a golf course in the Eaglebrook Subdivision, from the permit process.
Soon after the policy took effect in August, councilors learned people in some areas of town can't travel by golf cart to restaurants and other businesses without breaking the law by either driving upon a 35 mph road or crossing private property.
Amending the law to allow permitted drivers to use the vehicles on city streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less should allow access to most areas, officials said.
"I think this is a result of what we intended when we passed the ordinance originally ... pass it, find out what issues were out there and then address them," councilman Mike Sovinski said. "So I think we're doing that with this ordinance."
Councilman Eric Clausen said the ordinance is the best way to allow more access to multiuse vehicles.
But the law has a few exceptions, as councilor Myron Buxton pointed out.
For example, people living along parts of State Route 703 within city limits - where the speed limit is 45 mph - won't be able to access 35 mph streets using multiuse vehicles.
"So they're locked in," Buxton said.
Drivers of multiuse vehicles won't be able to directly travel from Lake Shore Drive to West Bank Road and its restaurants and proposed condominium/hotel-style resort. They could, as mayor Jeff Hazel noted, take a roundabout route by accessing Schunk Road off West Bank Road to maneuver around to Lake Shore Drive and vice versa.
"But they cannot drive on (U.S.) 127 there," Hazel said.
Hazel noted a path could be paved to provide better access.
"There is not a path on the west side (of U.S. 127) at this point," he said. "That'd be on the water plant side. But that would be a logical place that path could be built along there to get to ... Washington Street."
Asked by Buxton about exempting some people from the permit process, Hazel said officials cannot do so. He added that he had studied the issue with city law director George Moore.
"There is no exceptions currently that's allowable under state law, and we can't allow anything that is not provided for under state law," Hazel said. "We can always be more restrictive, council can be, but we can't be less."
A few Eaglebrooke residents had previously said they don't want to make their golf carts street legal just to be able to drive to the golf course. One resident said he had moved into the subdivision 18 years ago expressly to play golf and would not spend the money to make his golf cart street legal.
Local businessman/developer John Irmscher, who helped bring the golf course to the area years ago, had previously claimed that when the Eaglebrooke Subdivision was approved by city council and then-mayor Jim Mustard in 1993, it was understood that golf carts would be permitted as a selling point to the golfing community. Sidewalks were set at five feet for golf cart travel, he had said.
City law director George Moore at a past meeting said he believes the state law that took effect this year allowing golf carts on roadways with a 35 mph speed limit or slower "would trump whatever has been done here in the past."
Unless multiuse vehicles pass a police inspection, they cannot legally be driven on city streets. Those seeking a permit must present a valid Ohio driver's license and proof of insurance. All multi-use vehicles must be legally registered with Ohio license plates and have working brakes, brake and taillights, a horn, a steering mechanism, a windshield, a rearview mirror, safe-condition tires, front and back turning signals, a white license plate light and front and back seatbelts.
Council members will give the ordinance second reading at the next regular council meeting set for 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in council chambers on the second floor of the city administration building.