The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 21, 2012

DeWitt officials address golf cart, ATV ordinance

By Janet Huffman
Herald Correspondent

DEWITT — Questions about the proposed golf cart, utility vehicle and all terrain vehicle ordinance arose at the DeWitt City Council meeting Monday.

After several months of discussion and fine-tuning, three Springbrook area residents asked why the ordinance was necessary.

Jean Bowen voiced this concern while Matt Willimack noted the ordinance would  impact only a small number of people in the community. He said it was not an issue until the council made it an issue.

Michael Roe did not think it was safe or appropriate to drive golf  carts around the community and said his biggest concern is that citizens will be driving through thoroughfares and in traffic.

Addressing Willimack’s comments, councilman Steve Hasenmiller said the council had not gone out and looked for the issue; people had asked for the ordinance. City Administrator Steve Lindner said that driving golf carts on city streets is illegal by state law if there is no separate city ordinance. He noted the ordinance would be more efficient and more progressive and beneficial for the community. It might also be a favorable community aspect that would attract new people to the city.

Mayor Don Thiltgen said the proposal was precipitated because golf carts are on city streets and it is not legal. This opened the issue to come up with something fair for everyone not just golf cart people.

“I don’t know if it’s completely safe,” councilman Kurt Ketelsen said and asked why anyone would care that it would be legal for everyone.

Bowen asked how golf carts would be inspected and said it was just one more thing targeting a certain group of people.

Councilman Verlyn Scheckel replied that residents did not have to get a license if they didn’t want to drive on city streets.

Lindner added that a number of inspections could be done at one time and the intent is not to pick on any group. It is that it’s illegal to drive on streets and now it won’t be. The bulk of the licensing cost will be for insurance (recommended liability with a limit of either $300,000 or $500,000) if it has not already been purchased. The remainder of the fee will cover the city’s costs for permit procedures.

Thiltgen added work on the ordinance is still not finished, but the council will have to make a decision in the future.

The council passed a resolution relating to cemetery interment rules for veterans. The rule permits the spouse of a veteran to be buried in Elmwood Cemetery providing the deceased spouse is already buried there and there is space.

At the request of the police department, the council approved an agreement with the county information technology department for computer and software services. The hourly rate is $60 and the agreement will be reviewed in one year.

The first readings of three ordinances amending the city’s code of ordinances were approved as a result of new legislation in the Iowa Legislature. They pertain to service discontinued and lien exemptions for the billing and collection of utility payments, prohibited sales and acts regarding mixed drinks and cocktails that are not immediately consumed, and installment payment of cost of abatement increasing the amount to $500 which can be paid in 10 annual installments.

A public hearing on November 5 was set to consider an economic agreement with DN Investment Partnership for a residential housing project. The agreement includes annual appropriation tax increment payments not to exceed $1.5 million, but Lindner said the agreement would narrow down to an actual amount.

DN developers are targeting a specific housing range.

In discussion of the capital improvement plan, Lindner said preliminary planning had begun on the Sixth Avenue project from St. Joseph’s Church to the Union Pacific Railroad, but the East Eighth Street project could be moved back. Other major project construction for 2013 is the Skeffington Trail bridge replacement.

Lindner also updated the council on the volunteer program, which will be pursued to see if there is any interest, and the community center generator muffler. He will pursue a used generator before the city purchases a muffler for the current one at about $5,000.