There may soon be golf carts on Blair city streets.
The city council approved an ordinance on first reading 6-1 to allow the use of the vehicles within city limits. Council member Chris Jensen voted against the ordinance. Council member Jon Stewart was absent.
City Attorney Desirae Solomon, who drafted the ordinance, said Tuesday that it is identical to the city's utility-task vehicle (UTV) ordinance, with one notable difference.
“The difference between the golf cart ordinance and what we have for the UTVs, the UTVs you do allow to go 30 mph, the golf carts are at 20 mph,” she said.
Golf carts will be defined as any motorized vehicle which is 74 inches wide or less; not more than 180 inches long; weighs 2,00 pounds or less; and travels on four or more non-highway tires. All-terrain vehicles or low-speed vehicles are not considered golf carts.
Operators will be required to be at least 18 years old and own and carry a Class O operator's license.
State motor vehicle registration will not be required, but all golf carts must be issued an identification tag by the Blair Police Department.
Golf cart operators are required to have liability insurance should be able to provide proof of insurance within five days of the request. The headlights and taillights must be on when the golf cart is in operation and the vehicle must have a bicycle safety flag. Golf carts must have a roll bar and an occupant protection system, which includes seat belts.
Golf carts will be allowed to operate from sunrise to sunset. The vehicles are not allowed to operate on any highway with more than two marked traffic lanes. The crossing of any highway must only be made at an intersection that is controlled by a traffic control signal.
The ordinance will require that the crossing of any non-controlled-access highway with more than two marked traffic lanes be made at an angle of approximately 90 degrees; the golf cart is brought to a complete stop before crossing; and the operator yields the right of way to oncoming traffic.
Violators of the ordinance are subject to a Class III misdemeanor and $50 fine upon conviction.
Jensen voiced his concerns on safety over the ordinance.
“Who is going to inspect this golf cart after they put a roll cage in it, headlights on it, brights on it, the turn signals, the speedometer? Is that going to be the police department before they license it?” he asked.
“It is now for UTVs,” Mayor Rich Hansen said.
Police Chief Joe Lager took issue with that proposal.
“I'm not a certified mechanic so when they put a roll bar on where do they weld it to? I have big issue with liability that we're taking on if we have to as a police department have to approve an add on,” he said. “The UTVs it's already there. All you're doing is putting a flag and a sticker on the back and making sure the headlight and taillight works.”
Council member Kevin Hall questioned what the liability to the city would be if police officers were to inspect the golf carts.
“This is an ordinance where you can say we're not going to require roll bars to be installed. You don't have to have Joe inspect it or warrant that it was done correctly,” Solomon said. “It's an issue of how strict this city council wants to make the golf cart ordinance if the city council is going to approve it. Not every city requires the golf cart to have a roll bar. Some cities do not have that requirement at all. They have an occupancy system that requires the seat belts, flags, the permits and the lights.”
Several Blair residents spoke in favor of the golf cart ordinance, which was developed at the request of resident Dixie Hansen.
Donna Henton, who initially had reservations about allowing golf carts on city streets, said she believes there are residents who would enjoy golf carts in Blair.
“I think golf carts, as long as they follow the rules, would be a good thing,” she said. “Maybe it's time for Blair to live a little and trying something new and refreshing.”
Bobbi Jo Lockhart said it was more than just something for enjoyment for her as she and her partner use their vehicle for mobility.
“It just seems like a win-win for Blair,” she said. “You get some additional revenue as well as people who don't get around as well being able to go.”
Council member Mindy Rump said there were varying opinions on the transportation committee, which reviewed the request. But they thought it was worth bringing to the council.
“If it does pass, make no mistake, the public will have to follow these rules. These are strict guidelines and regulations just like the UTVs,” she said. “Our opinion was if UTVs can be doing it, then why not golf carts?”
The ordinance will need to be read and approved at the next two council meetings before it can take effect.