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Council committee reconsidering golf cart rules

BUCKEYE LAKE – Village Council’s Public Safety Committee, by a two to one vote, is recommending to the full council that the ordinance prohibiting licensed golf carts from operating on Ohio 79 be revised.

Currently, licensed golf carts are only permitted to travel on village streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. If council agrees with the safety committee recommendation, licensed golf carts will be permitted to travel on village streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Unlicensed golf carts are not permitted on public roadways period.

Council member and public safety committee chair Gerry Neff opposed changing the ordinance. She said she talked to two groups of people about allowing licensed golf carts on Ohio 79. “Group one said yes, if they have a death wish, and group two said no, it’s too dangerous,” Neff said during the Monday evening committeee meeting.

Mayor Clay Carroll said he researched some communities that allow golf carts on their streets and some allowed golf carts in 35 miles per hour zones while others didn’t. “It kind of goes back and forth,” he said. Carroll said at first he was opposed to changing the ordinance, but there’s been only one case of a vehicle hitting a golf cart, and the vehicle hit the cart while it was crossing a road with a 35 miles per hour limit, which Buckeye Lake currently allows. He said he found no incidents of villages being sued over a golf cart accident. “I thought I would find a boatload, but I didn’t,” Carroll said.

“I think we need to make the streets accessible,” said council and committee member Margaret Hanson. She said golf carts as transportation are rising in popularity.

Carroll said other communities prohibiting golf carts from 35 miles per hour zones are completely accessible using streets with 25 miles per hour limits. This isn’t the case in Buckeye Lake. “There are no back streets to tie places together in town,” he said. “We have a different layout than these other communities.”

“I’m for it,” Hanson said. She said golf cart drivers must have standard driver’s licenses and motorists in the community must realize it’s important to go the speed limit because they are sharing the road. Hanson said golf cart owners shouldn’t be denied access to the community. They have licenses, insurance, and are experienced drivers.

Council member Peggy Wells, who attended the meeting, said her golf cart has always been insured. “It’s the responsible thing to do,” she said.

Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton warned there is some legal liability to permitting golf carts on Ohio 79.

Wells said a person could legally ride a tricycle down Ohio 79. She said she saw a 13 year old driving a riding lawn mower on the sidewalk and drove it into a tree.

Hanson said allowing golf carts on Ohio 79 is the “fair thing to do.”

Council and committee member Michelle McCormick said policing adults to that extent “is not a good thing.”

Neff said police are there to protect people as well as let them do what they want.

Wells said placing warning signs about golf carts on Ohio 79 may actually slow the rest of the traffic.

Hanson said she understands Neff’s safety concerns, but she believes being a golf cart friendly community is positive.

Carroll said police would stop any golf cart driver operating inappropriately, just like any other vehicle. They would also be subject to equipment violation fines, such as malfunctioning headlights or turn indicators.

While Hanson and McCormick stated their support for recommending to council to allow golf carts on Ohio 79, Neff was steadfast in her opposition. “Seems like a disaster waiting to happen,” she said.

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