By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – An ordinance legalizing the use of golf carts on 15 streets in the Moose Creek neighborhood was approved on a 5-2 vote Monday, Aug. 17, by the village board.
The two dissenting votes came from Village President Laura Nelson and Trustee Mike Schneider.
Board members then voted 6-1 in favor of a resolution setting the initial inspection fee for golf carts to operate on streets at $100 with an annual renewal fee of $40. Nelson was the lone dissenter.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said the ordinance will take effect Monday, Aug. 24, to allow time for signage to be posted designating the routes and permit stickers to be ordered.
Kaker said the ordinance requires golf carts to be inspected by and registered with the Suamico Police Department before operating on any street with proof of ownership and insurance necessary to register them, along with a valid driver’s license.
Because of the ordinance taking effect late in the year and golf cart use on designated village streets only allowed April 15 to Oct. 31 from sunrise to sunset, he said a permit purchased in 2020 will also be valid in 2021.
In addition, Kaker said operating golf carts on designated village streets will be prohibited Monday-Friday between 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. while school is in session.
He said golf carts also may not be operated during inclement weather, such as rain, snow or fog, or when visibility may be 500 feet or less.
Legalizing golf carts was sought by a group of Moose Creek neighborhood residents who collected more than 100 signatures on a petition.
More than 20 people were in attendance with the majority of comments provided to the board in favor of allowing golf carts in the neighborhood.
Andrew Herald, who lives on Moose Creek Trail, spoke in favor of the ordinance and provided the board with background on what led up to the effort in the neighborhood to legalize golf carts.
Herald said golf carts will provide a safe and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation in the neighborhood.
“Obviously, there’s other forms of transportation, but a lot these golf carts you can flip the back seats down and you can haul firewood, you can go down and help someone else with a project in the neighborhood,” he said.
Schneider said he was contacted before the meeting by almost two dozen people with all but one “very opposed to this.”
“All those individuals have expressed they do not want this to go through,” he said.
Schneider said he wouldn’t support the ordinance unless it excluded the seven streets where he heard from people opposed to their use for reasons that included the streets not being wide enough, safety concerns, etc.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum, who said state law allows municipalities to authorize the use of golf carts on streets, called community support in favor of them “a reflection of how things are changing, to some degree.”
“I noticed that a lot of the individuals who were actually speaking today were younger couples with younger children – much younger than me, but that’s just about everybody,” he said.
Van Rossum said those operating golf carts will be “under a microscope” from opponents of their use.
Because others from Harbor Lights Lake subdivision and Riverside Drive also spoke in favor of allowing golf carts, Van Rossum said he expects the ordinance will be amended in the future to allow use on other village streets.
“I would prefer to see it on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, because there are just some neighborhoods where golf carts – it’s just not appropriate,” he said. “But in this case (of the Moose Creek neighborhood), I would like to see this go forward. I want to see it go forward with the streets that were outlined.”
Because the ordinance limits golf cart use to streets with a speed limit of 25 mph or less, Trustee Dan Roddan said no one would be able to legally operate one out of the Moose Creek neighborhood where the speed limit on streets becomes faster.
“I think that the way that we’re looking at this now – little community by little community – works awesome,” he said.
Nelson said she hopes people operating golf carts have “adequate insurance.”
“I hope it’s not one of you or your children who suffers death, dismemberment or bodily injury because of a driver who doesn’t see you or your child in a blind spot in a golf cart,” she said.