After more than a year of discussions regarding the Village of Wellington’s proposed golf cart ordinance, a final version of the measure is scheduled for discussion and final action at the Tuesday, Aug. 24 meeting of the Wellington Village Council.
The measure passed its first reading with some changes in June.
The target date of having the new law take effect is on March 1, 2022, or some other date approximately 180 days in the future to allow signage to be installed and public service announcements to be produced and aired.
The council had a general consensus that an ordinance should be adopted so golf carts could be legally used on village pathways. With strong opinions on some aspects of the ordinance, such as an age limit, licensing and night operation, a robust discussion is expected.
Back in October 2020, Assistant Planning, Zoning & Building Director Michael O’Dell and his staff were instructed to visit village committees and neighborhood group meetings to collect information on public attitudes about the usage of golf carts.
“This should be the meeting [on Aug. 24] where the ordinance decision is made, unless the council decides on significant changes, as described by the village attorney. Then it might need a third public hearing,” O’Dell explained.
Village Attorney Laurie Cohen cautioned the council that she would advise them at the time if any change to the ordinance made during the meeting was “significant” and in her legal opinion required an additional public hearing.
A low-speed vehicle or neighborhood electric vehicle looks like a golf cart with extra equipment, but they are not what the ordinance addresses. Legally, such vehicles are considered a car, require a registration, tag and a licensed driver. These can be driven on roadways but not pathways, which are usually eight feet wide, or on sidewalks, which are less than eight feet wide, usually just four or five feet.
Until the new ordinance or some version of it passes, golf carts are not legally allowed to be used on any of the public roadways or multi-modal pathways in the village.
An additional stumbling block in the discussions is that a golf cart can be legally driven by a 14-year-old on roadways having a speed limit of 25 mph or less, according to state law. Golf carts may be operated on private roadways in gated communities by 14-year-old drivers.
The council cannot address this issue; it can only address golf carts on the multi-modal pathways, and consensus seems to be that 14 is too young. Several council members wanted golf cart drivers to have taken a rules-of-the-road course, which a learner’s permit or driver’s license would provide.
The meeting will be held in the council chambers on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.