By Kevin Boneske
SUAMCIO – Driving golf carts on some village streets could become legal later this year.
After hearing from representatives of an effort to allow them in the Moose Creek neighborhood, the Suamico village board decided Monday, July 20, to direct staff to work with Village Attorney Corey Kimps to review a draft ordinance.
Andrew Herald, who lives on Moose Creek Trail, said allowing people age 16 and older with a valid driver’s license to operate golf carts in that area would be “a way for us to build on our already pretty awesome community that we have with the Moose Creek Trail.”
“We think that the golf carts will just increase that, particularly for us, to build our community and socially interact with each other,” he said.
Herald said the golf carts would be a safe means of transportation to get around the neighborhood.
“To increase functionality is another reason why we’d like to utilize our golf carts,” he said. “During (the COVID-19 pandemic), it was nice to get out of the house, jump in the golf cart, go for a little cruise down the block, check in on each other, say ‘hi’ to each other…”
Herald said those using golf carts in the neighborhood were informed by police they were not slow-moving vehicles and they should stop using them.
“I think we compiled with that very well, immediately,” he said.
Since then, Herald said a petition was circulated in the neighborhood in favor of allowing golf cart use with rules and regulations.
Erica Kentop, who lives on Wallenfang Lane, said more than 100 people signed the petition.
After receiving a visit from a police officer, she said she looked into state law, which now allows the enactment of a local ordinance for golf carts to operate on roads with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.
“A few years ago this was kind of amended for a reason,” she said. “(State law) allows it to happen within local municipalities and show you can do the right thing with the right set of rules.”
Kentop said some municipalities across Wisconsin legalized golf cart use on roads.
“And through talking with people there, there has been no issues up to this point,” she said. “Some examples of this are Oconto County, the Town of Riverview, the Town of Eaton, the Town of Prescott, Two Rivers, Pulaski and the City of Thorp.”
More than 20 people were present for the Suamico village board meeting in support of allowing golf carts.
Some of the key points of Suamico’s proposed ordinance, which was backed 4-0 July 14 by the village’s Public Health and Safety Committee, include:
• Golf carts must be registered through the village annually.
• Annual registration fees would be charged.
• Insurance would be required.
• Signage would be required similar to those necessary for snowmobile routes. The Department of Public Works is working on a cost estimate for road signage.
• Golf carts may only be used from sunrise to sunset.
• The village board would have to approve by ordinance specific streets. Golf cart use would not become legal throughout the entire village.
Trustee Dan Roddan said the committee discussed the “dos and don’ts” related to golf carts, such as not being allowed on school property or village trails, as well as annual inspections, fees and permits.
Brown County Deputy Jim Kowalkowski, a direct enforcement officer in Suamico, said he was surprised at the amount of municipalities in Wisconsin that allow golf carts on roads within their jurisdiction.
“It’s not only small towns… it’s the City of Brillion, it’s the City of Lake Geneva, it’s a lot of places,” he said. “I found at least 24 ordinances that I reviewed, and they’re all similar. Somebody’s done the work, and we took basically what we thought would be applicable and good for Suamico, if you guys were to adopt this.”
Kowalkowski said the measure would be similar to a snowmobile ordinance to limit golf carts to village streets posted at 25 mph or less.
However, he said some village roads at that speed limit would not be suitable for having golf carts with the amount of traffic, and would not be included in the ordinance.
“We want to isolate it, keep it in rural neighborhood subdivisions, where there’s a low traffic volume, a low potential for crashes, so on and so forth,” Kowalkowski said.
He said Suamico has a mix of rural and heavily traveled streets.
Kowalkowski said people living in other parts of the village who would want to operate golf carts in their neighborhoods would have to come before the board to be considered separately.
He said all the rules of the road apply with operating golf carts on streets, such as having a valid driver’s license and insurance that covers being on roads.
Kowalkowski said the golf carts would be required to have a headlight, taillight and a rear-view mirror and could not travel faster than 20 mph.
He said golf carts would not be allowed to operate on village streets during inclement weather, such as rain, snow, fog or when visibility is less than 500 feet.
Kaker said there would be two readings of the ordinance leading up to final approval, which could take place at the board’s meetings in August, before golf carts would be allowed.
He said an effective date would be set for when the village could have everything in place, such as having signage posted, etc.
In the event there would be problems with golf carts being used on village streets, Kaker said the ordinance could subsequently be rescinded.