Board to vote to legalize golf carts in parts of Suamico
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – An ordinance to legalize driving golf carts on some streets will be up for approval Monday, Aug. 17, by the Suamico village board after receiving a first reading last week.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker informed the board Aug. 3 about staff putting together a registration process and forms to go along with the drafted ordinance, which was reviewed by Village Attorney Corey Kimps.
“If you want a golf cart permit, you will need to first set up an inspection by our police department, and then go to the office to submit that form and application, pay your annual fee and then you get your permit sticker,” Kaker said.
If the proposed ordinance would pass, he suggested those getting permits this year should not need to renew in 2021 because it’s late in the year.
Kaker said a $100 permit fee for an initial registration is being suggested and $40 for subsequent annual renewals.
To notify village residents about the vote to allow golf carts on designated streets in the Moose Creek neighborhood, the board agreed to send letters to the residents on those 15 streets, along with mentioning the upcoming vote on the village’s website.
Residents from the neighborhood requested allowing golf carts on those streets, with more than 100 people signing a petition in favor.
The village’s Public Health and Safety Committee recommended July 14 the carts be allowed under a set of rules which include having a valid driver’s license, registering the carts, having insurance, signage designating golf cart routes where they could travel no faster than 20 mph, limiting use to between sunrise and sunset, etc.
“There’s a lot of good content in the ordinance to be able to manage these golf carts,” said Trustee Dan Roddan.
He said the ordinance could be repealed if there would subsequently be problems with operating golf carts on village streets.
Village President Laura Nelson, who wasn’t present July 20 when more than 20 people showed up for the board meeting in favor of allowing golf carts on designated streets, spoke against the idea.
“Why are we allowing any golf cart, which safety features in and of themselves are questionable, let alone impeding traffic on our roadways?” she said.
Nelson said she believes allowing the carts could lead to future problems.
“There’s seven people on this board, and I’m probably going to be the only one voting against it, but I just see this getting abused excessively,” she said. “I see this as a slippery slope that it’s going to be this subdivision and the next subdivision and the next subdivision.”
Though state law authorizes local municipalities to allow their use on roads, Nelson said golf carts should not be operated on public roads and highways in Wisconsin.
“This is just a really bad idea,” she said.
Nelson said Suamico residents throughout the village need to have input on the proposed ordinance, not just those residing in the neighborhood where allowing golf carts is being considered.
“I don’t think it’s fair, based on one petition from one subdivision, to put in an ordinance that will affect the entire Village of Suamico,” she said. “That’s not a fair process.”
Trustee Mike Schneider said he, in principle, has been against the idea of allowing golf carts on streets, but because of the number of residents in the Moose Creek neighborhood who requested allowing them, he supports it.
“I live right there, so I think if there’s going to be any violations… I’ll be seeing them all the time,” he said.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum said the ordinance is a way of managing the use of golf carts.
“With this ordinance and allowing the privilege, emphasis on privilege, to allow those golf carts to be used in those neighborhoods in that fashion, we’re holding that neighborhood responsible for adhering to the ordinance,” he said. “Should they choose to or should they be unable to adhere to that ordinance, this can be revoked. That’s the carrot and the stick. Without that (ordinance), I don’t think we have a carrot and a stick.”
When the board opened the issue for public comment, Erica Kentop – who lives on Wallenfang Lane, one of the 15 designated routes in the proposed ordinance – said state law allows golf carts to be regulated for safe operation on streets.
She said golf carts in the Moose Creek neighborhood have been parked since residents contacted police earlier this year as to how they may be legally used on streets.
Two advisory board members from the Hunters Run neighborhood – where allowing use of golf carts has also been suggested, but won’t be part of the ordinance the board will consider Aug. 17 – raised concerns about allowing them in that portion of the village because of roadway congestion, etc.