Fort Thomas Council Committee tables golf cart amendment for further consideration


Council members decided that more comment is needed on whether to lower the age limit for golf carts on city streets.

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by Robin Gee, City Council Editor

Fort Thomas City Council Law, Labor and Permitting Committee has decided to take a measured approach to a proposal to change current golf cart rules to lower the age limit from 19 to 16 years old. The committee tabled the question so that they could have more time to gather information and speak with residents.

The committee, chaired by a member of the board Connie grubbs, includes board members Ben pendery and Ken bowman. A proposal from a board member Jeff Bezold Would reduce the age limit in the city’s current golf cart ordinance to 16.

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“I would like the local ordinance to align more consistently with state law,” said Bezold, who owns a cart himself. a vehicle – these same people should earn the right to drive a golf cart. ”

The Council passed a Golf Cart Ordinance in 2019. The language was based on state law allowing golf carts, but has been adjusted to suit the situation in Fort Thomas, which has hilly topography and several national roads. One of the changes did not allow golf carts on city streets where the speed limit is over 30 miles per hour. State law allows them on roads up to 35 mph.

Bezold does not disagree with this waiver of state law. “The reason is that two of our roads that are 35 mph are US 27 and Memorial Parkway. It just doesn’t make much sense to have golf carts on them.”

The previous Law, Labor and Licensing Committee spent several meetings exploring and discussing the Golf Cart Ordinance. At the time, they recommended that the age limit be 19, as they believed that would be a good safe starting point for these new drivers to get used to navigating the city in motor vehicles.

Time to review?

Bezold said he believes the city has had enough time to determine if a change is necessary. “When we first issued this ordinance to make golf carts legal two years ago in the fall of 2019, we said let’s give ourselves a little time and see if there were any issues.” , did he declare.

“Now that two years have passed and we have a fairly good sample size, we have enough experience to have it around … There have been no issues reported by the police, so I thought this would be a good time to go ahead and bring it back. Again, that would make it more compliant with state law. “

Timing and data is the problem for board members Adam blau. “We haven’t really had golf carts in so long. You could say two years, but in reality we had 10 golf carts the first year and 35 the next year, so we’re just starting to study the golf carts. effects … I just want a little more time for this reason, ”he said.

Blau said his main concern was safety. He noted that he’s seen adult drivers not using seat belts and other safety measures, and if adults don’t follow all the rules, we can’t expect teens to do so. . He said he didn’t think drivers didn’t have enough experience driving golf carts as transport vehicles.

“My concern all this time has been that no one has ever driven them anywhere other than the golf course, so they are not considered vehicles. We have to completely change our mindset in order to adapt to driving. with other vehicles on the road, ”he said.

“No one can convince me that they are as safe as a car. You end up in the back of a golf cart going 20 miles an hour, whoever is in the back is badly injured, not like in a car. There are a lot of factors to consider. ”

Still, he said: “I’m not 100% against it, I just wish I had a little more time with adults behind the wheel before I put someone who has never been behind the wheel behind something like this. , that’s all.”

The committee’s decision

The request to review the proposal was added to the committee’s agenda on the Friday before its meeting the following Monday. It was expected that the committee would be able to make a recommendation for a first reading to the board that evening.

Committee members said they didn’t think it gave them enough time to research and fully discuss such an important change.

Pendery said his first reaction to Bezold’s request was that it made sense. “If you’re old enough to get a driver’s license, it looks like you should definitely be old enough to drive a golf cart in our city. My gut reaction at first was that I didn’t object,” a- he declared.

“But I’ll say I want to hear from the community what they think about it. Obviously, from those who own the wagons themselves. And, it’s important that we don’t overload our cops, so I want to know where they are. And anyone else in the community has concerns. ”

Grubbs agreed. “I have very little experience driving golf carts around town. We don’t have any … so I want to listen and hear what others have to say about it. For me, 16 years is enough to drive a car but I would love to contact the schools and hear what they say about their children riding golf cart to school. And I have safety concerns. J have questions about seat belts, child restraints. ”

Bowman also weighed in, noting that he was inclined to oppose the idea of ​​any change regarding concerns about security and whether policing the problem could place too great a burden on the police department.

Fort Thomas Police Chief Casey kilgore added, that any comment on whether or not there would be problems in the future would be pure speculation.

The committee asks for more time

Pendery added, “I would just like to get feedback. I would love anyone with a strong feeling one way or the other to speak out. As a board member, I am the spokesperson for the community and i want to make sure we think about this … i think it can be done right and some 16 year olds could safely drive golf carts in fort thomas but i am definitely not the only one out there get a seat at the table, and I want to make sure we’re all in agreement before we make a decision. ”

Grubbs decided that the committee would table the item to allow more time for input and discussion.

Blau praised the committee’s handling of the issue. “I’m very proud of this committee because of the way it was pitched to them … The fact that the committee recognized that they needed to do more research on their own is commendable. That is why they are the.”

On this point, Bezold agreed. “I spoke to Connie after the meeting. She’s trying to do her due diligence because she has no experience with this. I can understand that… We had a conversation and will continue the conversation. not a Jeff Bezold It’s a board decision.

“We haven’t had a consensus to remove him from the committee this week, and that’s fine with me,” Pendery said. “There is nothing wrong with taking time and doing more homework. And that’s how we left it at the end of the meeting. We spoke as committee members, ask for help. comments and let’s get together and see where we are at, where our concerns are, and if this is something we can do, absolutely do it. “

Council members urged residents with opinions on the age change or other comments on the golf cart ordinance to contact committee members or one of the council members.

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