Golf cart ordinance tabled by council

YORK – Following a third reading of an ordinance that would have allowed golf carts on the majority of city streets in York, the council voted to table the matter in order to send it back to the Ordinance Committee for revisions.

This particular ordinance would have allowed the use of golf carts on city streets, with the exception of Blackburn Avenue, Delaware Avenue, Division Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, Nobes Road, Platte Avenue, 25th Street and Sixth Street. The ordinance also said they could not be driven over 20 mph; the driver would need to have a driver’s license and liability insurance. The golf carts could not be used in the dark.

Some council members voiced concerns about safety, during previous readings, and others voiced support.

After debate and discussion, the council voted to not vote at this time, in order for more stipulations to be added before reviewing the matter again.

“One concern I have is that with the current ordinance before us, is there is no requirement to register with an entity,” said Councilmember Stephen Postier, “or how to ensure the owner is held responsible” if an accident or other incident would occur. “I’d like to see fines specified (for non-compliance) and specifications if there are multiple offenses. I think the lack of stipulations opens up these concerns for safety. This could still be a useful ordinance with these issues being addressed. Also, the way this is written, Lincoln Avenue aren’t excluded.”

One of the reasons this ordinance came back to the council (after being denied earlier with a split vote) was because of a request to have special allowances for golf carts to be used during special events – like the Chamber staff using them during Yorkfest as an example.

“With the exclusions that are in this ordinance now, including Nebraska and Sixth, what would the Chamber do, have special allowances?” asked Councilmember Jerry Wilkinson.

“I understand the Chamber just wanted a procedure for special permission so how did this change to allow everyone?” asked Councilmember Vicki Northrop.

“This ordinance, as written, doesn’t allow for any special permits,” responded York City Attorney Charles Campbell.

“I’m interested to see how the chief of police feels about this,” Northrop said.

“How will you know who is 16, licensed and insured?” Wilkinson asked Police Chief Ed Tjaden.

“We can’t stop anyone, including on a golf cart (if this was to pass) without probable cause,” Chief Tjaden said. “There are enforcement challenges in the way it is written. There is also an issue with the definition of golf carts and how to enforce this from a legal standpoint. The definition makes that difficult. I hate to be the guy who always says no, but that’s my job. This will put the police department out there being heavy-handed, it’s hard to consistently enforce. I’m concerned about the issue of putting golf carts on streets with dangerous vehicles.”

He also noted the ordinance didn’t prohibit excessive amounts of people on a cart or how many seats would be too many or too few.

“This doesn’t address enough about definitions, so people know what is allowed and what’s not,” Postier added. “And it doesn’t say anything about us having to put up signs where the golf carts would be allowed. And busy streets like Grant and Lincoln aren’t restricted. I think there is an opportunity to work on this ordinance further.”

“You are required to have three readings,” Campbell advised. “You can have more, you don’t have to take action tonight, you could review further. But if you propose major changes to this ordinance, you will need to start the process over.”

“I think we need to research this more and make the right decision,” Northrop said. “We need to do what is best for York.”

“You asked how this came up again, well there are people in town that already do it and there are no repercussions, so the question was why not let everyone do it,” Councilmember Jennifer Sheppard said to Northrop.

“My concern is how do you amend this after someone is injured or dies?” Northrop said. “I’d rather start small and build on that. I look at the worst-case scenario and want to work backwards on that.”

Postier asked about having a tag requirement so law enforcement knew which have the correct types of licensing and insurance.

“You would also have to think about the fee and who would be authority to issue those,” Campbell said.

“My recommendation is to not take action tonight, do more research,” Northrop said. “This ordinance is too non-specific for public safety.”

Northrop made a motion to table the matter and send it back to the Ordinance Committee. Councilmember Scott VanEsch seconded the motion and everyone on the council voted in favor.

The matter will go back to the Ordinance Committee for review.

 

Thanks for reading this article.
JMWNews.com content is free and never behind a paywall.
We believe in trustworthy, local journalism that is accessible to everyone.