A proposal to require golf cart owners in Whispering Pines to register with the village and provide proof of insurance has received mixed reviews during a public hearing.
The Village Council has been discussing better enforcement of state laws that already regulate golf carts since August, following regular complaints this year about underage drivers.
Whispering Pines is proposing that any resident who drives a golf cart off of private property be required to obtain a village-issued decal. To do that, they’ll have to provide proof of liability insurance outside of a homeowner’s insurance policy.
There may also be an associated fee of about $30 for three years, but the Village Council is expected to revisit the fee if it ultimately adopts new registration requirements.
Golf cart owners and those who share the village streets with them generally fell on either side of the issue in a public hearing during the Village Council’s regular meeting on Wednesday. Village Clerk Linda Christopher read five comments emailed in for the hearing — two in favor of the proposal and three against — and a sixth resident present at the meeting spoke in favor of the additional requirements proposed.
Residents against the proposal suggested that the Whispering Pines Police Department already has the power to enforce driver’s license laws.
Matthew Craig Dabbs, writing on behalf of a small group of golfers, suggested that the village implement an online registration process that doesn’t involve a fee or a specific identification sticker.
“While we understand and recognize the need to enforce underage and reckless driving of golf carts, we do not see how registration and a decal will dissuade these actions from happening,” Dabbs wrote.
Resident Ernie Dumlao, who also emailed input to be read during Wednesday’s hearing, said that he has witnessed situations that would potentially be in violation of existing laws, but has had no way of reporting them.
“I think the operation of golf carts by underaged and unlicensed people poses a tremendous threat to the safety of villagers who bike, stroll and drive along our peaceful streets. I have also witnessed unsafe operations by people who should know better,” Dumlao wrote. “If I had any way of identifying the violator I certainly would have reported the incident to our police department instead.”
In previous discussions, council members have said that there’s no intent to target golfers behind the proposed ordinances. Many Whispering Pines residents use golf carts to cruise around their neighborhoods or visit friends.
Another resident, Paulette Veloon, suggested that the village also consider adding language
prohibiting golf cart drivers from tying their dogs to moving carts or otherwise “walking” their dogs while riding in a cart.
The proposed ordinances also adjust the lighting requirements for golf carts driven after dark or before sunrise. The village is also considering doubling the penalty for any violation of the ordinance to $100.
“This measure will likely only affect responsible golf cart owners,” wrote Matt Gomlak. “An approach that imposes heavy fines against unlicensed and underaged drivers or results in expensive tickets for violators of golf cart driving ordinances would address the problem directly.”
The Village Council is expected to continue discussing new golf cart regulations during its work session at the end of the month and potentially vote in November for the new rules to take effect Jan. 1.
In other business on Wednesday, the Village Council provisionally approved a home-based business on Covenant Road, where Joshua Stokes plans to start an online firearms and tactical equipment business. No one spoke during a public hearing on Stokes’ request for a home occupation permit. Stokes will have to provide the village with a copy of his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permit and other applicable permits once he receives them.