No go on golf carts in Lisbon
August 27, 2009 · Matthew Brown
The drive to allow golf carts on Lisbon city streets sputtered to a stop Monday. It's unclear if the issue will get moving again.
Following a lengthy public hearing Monday on the issue of an ordinance to allow the regulated use of golf carts on city streets, and hearing concerns about the safety of operating golf carts in city streets, the majority of the city council voted to table the ordinance indefinitely.
Monday's public hearing was the second on the golf cart ordinance in recent months, and the first with the specific language of the proposed ordinance available for public comment.
A July 13 hearing used a copy of the City of Ely's golf cart ordinance as a basis for discussion. After receiving no public comment, the Lisbon version of the ordinance was drafted and set for its first reading Aug. 10. A motion to accept the first reading failed on a 2-2 vote (John Bardsley and Lance Zerbe voted "yes"; Stephanie Kamberling and Doug Kamberling voted "no"; Randy Roberts was absent). Despite this failure, the council requested another public hearing on the ordinance, with the addition of a brake-light requirement to the section on required safety equipment.
At the hearing this past Monday, concerns about the proposal centered on safety and enforcement issues. Lisbon resident Hal Dietsch was concerned that individuals might cause traffic problems by driving golf carts during the winter, an activity not specifically prohibited in the ordinance. Other residents wondered about a lack of seat belt requirements and potential dangers of an over-loading of passengers on golf carts.
Council member Stephanie Kamberling reiterated her belief that youngsters would drive golf carts even though the ordinance has an age requirement of 18.
Council member Roberts had a slightly different concern, wondering: "Why do we need an ordinance for something that's not a problem?"
Todd Nelson, co-owner of Lincolnway Custom Golf Cars in Lisbon, spoke in favor of the ordinance, stating that golf carts "are economical and they are safe." He explained the success other communities have had with golf carts, specifically citing Vinton as an example. He also said that regulating the carts allows for increased citizen policing since registered carts would have a phone number and cart number that people could use to notify authorities of reckless driving or other violations. The proposed ordinance has a variety of restrictions, including: streets they can be operated on, hours of operation, safety equipment, and a permitting process.
Police chief Rick Scott, who first brought the ordinance to the council, was not present at the meeting.
The motion to table came after it appeared the ordinance would die altogether for lack of a motion. The motion to table passed on a 3-2 vote, with council members Stephanie Kamberling and Roberts voting nay, and council members Bardsley, Lance Zerbe and Doug Kamberling voting aye. Stephanie Kamberling and Roberts did not speak directly to their no votes.