Council talks possibility of allowing golf carts on city streets

MANISTEE — City officials are talking about the possibility of introducing a new ordinance that would allow golf carts on city streets in Manistee.

Manistee City Council members discussed a possible new ordinance at their work session on Tuesday, which would permit residents to ride their golf carts on city streets. Thad Taylor, city manager, said Manistee currently does not allow for travel by golf cart.

However, council directed city staff on Tuesday to draft an ordinance for future consideration.

“If the ordinance is adopted by council golf carts would be allowed on all city streets with the exception of state trunk lines (i.e. U.S. 31 as it passes through the city),” Taylor said. “Golf carts would be allowed to cross U.S. 31, however not drive on it.”

Arthur Periard, who spends the spring and summer months in Manistee with his wife, sent a memo to Taylor, asking council to discuss and consider adopting an ordinance allowing golf carts. Periard said it would pose many benefits for city residents, especially those who cannot ride bicycles.

“My wife and I have spent the spring and summers in Manistee since 1989,” he said, in the memo. “I currently spend my winters in Florida. It is my belief that allowing golf carts in Manistee can only enhance the downtown.

“My wife and I are in our late 70s. Although I can still ride a bike, my wife is very less mobile. Walking any distance is difficult for her. Her primary option is an auto(mobile) as in the case of many residents in Manistee. We would like to enjoy Manistee and the neighborhood without having to use the car.”

The City of Ludington approved a law allowing ORVs and golf carts on city streets in 2016. After a year test trial, it was adopted. However, there are rules to be followed including driving in daylight hours and not driving more than 15 miles per hour for golf carts.

Michigan Vehicle Code “Section 657a” states the following: “A village or city having a population of fewer than 30,000 individuals based upon the 2010 decennial census may by resolution allow the operation of golf carts on the streets of that village or city, subject to the requirements of this section.”

Tim Kozal, Department of Public Works director, said if approved, residents would be required to register their golf cart with the city, which state law says should be free of charge.

State law also dictates that people 16 years and older with a driver’s license may operate a golf cart in cities or townships that have an ordinance allowing them to do so.

“They have not had any incidents (in Ludington) in years — not saying it can’t happen,” Kozal said. “I think it can some times be a benefit because of sustainability with electric golf carts and not using fuel… they still have to abide by our driving laws.”

Ludington’s ordinance states the following: “All golf carts intended for street use shall be registered and the owners or operators of those golf carts shall register such golf carts prior to operating the same on any city street, at no cost, with the Ludington Police Department and receive a registration sticker.”

Mayor pro-tem Lynda Beaton expressed her concern with the age limit, however, she was supportive of the idea overall.

“I do not think that I really have any issues with the golf carts at all; my parents lived in Arizona for 32 years and every community they lived in allowed golf carts. It seemed to be a very practical method of transportation in those communities,” she said. “I think I am a little worried about the age limit.”

Mayor Roger Zielinski said he feels that the ordinance should mirror state law.

“My thought process on the age is that if you are old enough to get your license to drive a car, you ought to be able to drive a golf cart. That’s just my opinion,” he said.

While the discussion is now on the table, city staff is charged with drafting an ordinance before an official vote can be made.

“We can discuss any changes if deemed necessary,” Taylor said.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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