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Springfield drives forward with golf cart statute
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After several weeks of wrangling over a proposed golf cart ordinance, Springfield City Council adopted a measure that they believe will give residents plenty of time to get used to it.

The new ordinance regulating use of golf carts on city streets will go into effect July 1, after council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt the rules.

“I think July 1 is plenty of time,” said City Manager Brett Bennett. “It gives us time to inform the public.”

The city also will put up signs but has to await state Department of Transportation action for those markers. The city will have one crossing for the carts on Laurel Street, where it intersects with Second Street.

Bennett was fearful of the amount of traffic at the intersection of Highways 119 and 21 and did not recommend making that an official crossing.

“I just felt that intersection was way too busy,” he said.

The ordinance, as approved, also will restrict use of the golf carts to daylight hours only. Warren Ratchford, sitting in for city attorney Rick Rafter, advised council members to clearly stipulate that the carts could be operated only during daylight hours.

“This will clarify people riding in carts at night,” said Mayor pro tem Jeff Ambrose.

Said Ratchford: “We need to make sure people know you can only drive them in daylight.”

Also part of the ordinance is a regulation stating that those with learner’s permits can drive carts on city streets — as long as they are accompanied by a licensed driver who is 18 years old, just as if they were operating a car.

“We left it to where it met the same guidelines as driving a car,” Bennett said.

Wynn said it would have been difficult to put all the restrictions on licenses into the ordinance.

“Someone may have a DUI permit that allows them to drive to and from work,” the chief said. “It could be to and from DUI school.”

Council member Kenny Usher worried that the ordinance issue, especially who could drive them, was very sensitive.

“I don’t think it changes the intent,” Bennett said of the license requirements. “I think it clarifies it.”

Waiting until July 1 to put the ordinance into effect also is expected to allow enough time for the requisite signs to be erected.

“We have to insure our signs our up,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Wynn. “We can get our signs knocked out pretty soon.”

Wynn backed a July 1 start date for the ordinance in order to get the city’s residents informed about the new ordinance.

Delete - Merge UpIn order for the law to go into effect, the city has to have the state DOT put up the signs. The city will be responsible for putting up signs on city streets, according to Bennett.

Council members also approved an amended city charter, which now will be sent to the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel. From there, it will go to state Rep. Jon Burns to introduce as legislation on the state House of Representatives floor.