Members of the Carmel City Council met Aug. 22 in a finance committee meeting to discuss a proposed ordinance regulating the use of golf carts on city streets. In the course of discussion, councilors decided it would be best to not pass any law at all and sent the bill back to the full council with a negative recommendation.
City Council President Ron Carter, sponsor of the legislation, said the goal of the law was to allow residents to use golf carts on roads if they are operated safely, which meant writing up rules such as prohibiting riding on the outside of golf carts. Other safety requirements involved licensing, seat belts, headlights and more. Carter said on the west side of Carmel there has been a growing number of residents who would like to use golf carts to get around their neighborhoods and some are doing it already, so he said a set of rules would be helpful.
Carter said state statutes might supersede Carmel’s law if passed, meaning that certain aspects of the law could be questioned legally. State law prohibits the use of low speed vehicles but allows cities to make them legal by ordinance. The city might not, however, be able to add rules about seat belts, headlights and brake lights, which caused concern.
“We cannot pass an ordinance locally that we feel is appropriate to protect the health and safety of the community,” he said. “We don’t feel comfortable having those on the streets without those protections. There’s no point in doing this if we can’t do it in a safe way.”
Carter said he knows some residents will be disappointed and he understands their frustration.
“If people don’t like this, then they need to contact their state legislators about the state law and let them know that it’s poorly written and not appropriate,” he said.
The proposal will make its way back to council Sept. 19. The Sept. 5 meeting has been cancelled due to Labor Day.