CAMANCHE — Golf cart usage spurred differing opinions this week among Camanche City Council members.
Despite the discussion, the majority of members are not in favor of allowing golf carts for recreational use.
Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida and Camanche Police Chief Colin Reid at a previous council meeting were directed to present a proposal for where golf carts should be allowed in the city of Camanche. The proposal calls for no golf carts on public streets north of U.S. 67, on U.S. 67, on Washington Boulevard or on the city bike path. Golf carts are allowed to cross Washington Boulevard at intersections. The golf carts may travel on Washington Boulevard only by use of homeowners on Washington Boulevard who only have access to city streets by use of Washington Boulevard. The vehicles are required to exit Washington Boulevard at the nearest side street to the homeowner's driveway. The proposal states golf carts are only permitted in public parks during events as authorized by the city. Golf carts are otherwise not permitted in public parks. Additional golf cart requirements, according to the proposal, are for brake lights, turn signals and head lights.
"One of the concerns though was for residents who live on Washington Boulevard," Kida said. "If we're not allowed to traverse Washington Boulevard how are they going to be able to ever use a golf cart? So we came up with the idea of allowing them on Washington Boulevard from the point of their driveway to the shortest side street. To the shortest distance to the nearest side street. And that would be the only way anyone could traverse Washington Boulevard with a golf cart."
Camanche Police Chief Colin Reid said while they do not want anyone with a medical reason having limited ability to get around town, there is a greater risk for injury on roads with posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or higher. He said any speed around 35 miles per hour can be a fatality speed.
"That's kind of why we just went with the bypass and Washington Boulevard," Reid said. "I don't want people to have to go clear across town on backroads to get to Casey's if that's where they need to go or Dollar General. That's not our goal. It's just to be safe. I don't think enforcement in the golf carts is going to overtax the police department. I think it will be spotty. It's going to be difficult to enforce in the sense if there's a violation for us to get there, find it and address it."
Camanche City Council member Amber Metzger supported using golf carts for recreational use. Metzger conceded there was a safety concern but believes it is feasible if the city puts enough stipulations on the use of the golf carts recreationally.
"I think you have to be smart about it," Metzger said. "I mean if you're on a busy street and there's cars coming at you just pull over and let them go by. And common sense. That's the hard part. But I've heard discussion too of people stating that it's not that hard to go to your medical doctor and get a letter from them either."
Camanche City Council member Paul Varner is opposed to allowing golf carts in the city for recreational use. He said the city already has a mechanism in place for people who need to use golf carts, citing strong controls over those people to get the golf carts.
"I, myself, I think it's a bad idea," Varner said. "I think we're opening up a really bad can of worms. And I'm adamantly opposed to it."
Camanche Mayor Trevor Willis believes the size of Camanche does not lend itself to allowing golf carts for recreational use. He believes Camanche is bigger than people give it credit for and has a lot of area to cover, stating it is a safety issue.
"I think the town is too big," Willis said. "If we were a gated community or we were boxed in somehow, but we're not. And we're spread out over a lot of square miles which makes it that much more difficult. Personally I don't think recreational golf carts in this town are a good idea and that's where I stand with it."
Metzger stated she would like to see an age requirement if the city allowed recreational use. Kida said the ordinance already requires the operator be at least 18 years old. City Attorney Randy Current said Iowa Code stipulates anyone with a valid driver's license should be allowed to operate a golf cart.
Current was unsure if students younger than 16 years old with a school permit would be able to operate the golf cart if allowed for recreational use by the city.
"It also in the state code says you can only drive them from sunrise to sunset," Current said. "So people who want to do it for recreational purposes they're still going to have to be off the city streets by sunset."
City Council member Tammy Campie supported staying with allowing the golf carts for health issues but not recreational use. Council member Danny Weller supported sticking with just medical use since the city cannot increase the age restriction.
Council member Brent Brightman suggested the city look at offering a trial run of recreational golf cart use.
"I have mixed feelings," Brightman said. "I mean I've been giving this a lot of thought in the last couple weeks. Maybe we let the public educate us. Put a timeframe on it in the next couple months. See how things go. There's pros and cons to it I understand. Maybe give them a chance. You know, what's left, three months of this year? Review it, see if we have any issues with policing it or complaints."
Kida said allowing recreational use would require changing of the ordinance. Kida would have to draft an ordinance for the next meeting and they would have to hold a public hearing.
The council also discussed a grandfathered status for individuals already approved for golf cart permits by the city. Metzger supported grandfathering in those individuals who already have a golf cart permit.
"I'm at the point where I think that those who already have it should be grandfathered in because they already made the investment and now we're changing some things, which is going to cost them more," Metzger said. "Luckily for me I have someone that's handy and can do that and it's not a big deal. But there's some really elderly folks that have it and if they didn't purchase a cart that already has it then they're going to be out more money."
Camanche City Attorney John Frey said the city probably does not want to make the grandfathered status permanent but suggested a period of time to give citizens with a golf cart permit a chance to decide whether it is worth continuing to use a golf cart, citing potential costs of $4,000 to $5,000 to bring the golf cart up to safety standards.
Frey recommended a period of time between three to five years.
Kida will bring an amended ordinance to a future council meeting. The changes include amending the ordinance to reflect the submitted proposal, time for grandfathered status and leaving the other restrictions as it is currently set.