City Council Kills Golf Cart Ordinance

Public feedback on Warsaw’s proposed golf cart ordinance has apparently killed the plan.
Instead of a second reading for an ordinance permitting the use of golf carts on Warsaw streets and alleys, it was withdrawn at Monday’s city council meeting.
The ordinance was initially approved 5-1 on first reading at the Feb. 21 council meeting, with only Councilwoman Diane Quance voting against it and Councilman Jeff Grose absent.
Last night, Councilman Mike Klondaris, who proposed the ordinance with Councilman Ron Shoemaker, told the council, “I want to thank the council for their support of that ordinance. The ordinance was meant to do good things for Warsaw, but due to continued concerns and continuing input, I will respectfully ask for a consensus of this council to withdraw Ordinance 2017-02-02, otherwise known as the golf cart ordinance authorizing the use of golf carts in the city of Warsaw, until further notice.”
The ordinance would have allowed golf carts on city streets, but prohibit them on many of the busiest streets and would have required drivers to meet numerous safety measures.  The plan would have also required users to have a driver’s license.
City attorney Mike Valentine asked Klondaris if he was tabling the ordinance. Klondaris said he was not and that it was a motion to withdraw the ordinance. Grose provided the second to the motion.
Quance said, “I’d just like to say that I think that one of the things that this has done is draw attention to the fact that there  is an issue with the safe use of golf carts in our community.”
She said the people she heard from were “quite concerned” and were in favor of existing laws being enforced, especially with young people driving golf carts who don’t have driver’s licenses and are driving in an unsafe manner and causing safety hazards on the streets.
“I think that one thing this ordinance has done is bring that to the forefront, and maybe some people didn’t even know it was illegal to be driving golf carts on the streets, but now they really should know that, and hopefully this will reduce some of the concerns that citizens have about the safety in the community,” Quance said.
Councilman Jerry Frush agreed with Quance, adding that the only reason he voted for the ordinance at the last meeting “was to make it safe and bring it to everybody’s attention, and I think that’s happening.”
Klondaris said, “I think it would be safe to say that our intentions were good. We really tried to make it safer, knowing that golf carts were out there, they are being driven. We thought by doing something we would make it safer for those who are driving golf carts and those who, especially emergency people who see them, would know that the people behind the wheel were licensed drivers and not 12-year-old kids who might be unpredictable. So I would concur with Diana, I’d like to see current statutes enforced and I would hope that the Traffic Commission would occasionally think about this issue and maybe there are some alternatives to the ordinance we drafted. It was a great draft.”
He said he and Shoemaker spent “hours and hours” working on the ordinance, but in the end “we were just overcome by too many hurdles, concerns of safety, and not being stubborn, we listened and made a judgement.”
The motion to withdraw the golf cart ordinance was approved 7-0.
In other business, the city council:
• Approved on first reading an ordinance transferring $600,000 within the Northern Tax Increment Finance’s 2017 budget from capital outlays into professional services to help cover a portion of the engineering services by Wessler Engineering for the proposed sewage treatment plant expansion, as requested by City Planner Jeremy Skinner.
The second reading will be at the council’s March 20 meeting.
On Friday, the Board of Works approved an agreement with Wessler for the sanitary plant expansion design for an amount not to exceed $1.39 million. The Redevelopment Commission also approved the agreement Monday.
• Approved on second reading the ordinance vacating the alley between Freedom Oil, 425 Argonne Road, and Our Father’s House, 401 Argonne Road. The council approved the ordinance on first reading at its Feb. 21 meeting.
The two buildings will be demolished and a new, bigger convenience store will be erected on the lots.
Freedom Oil Managing Member Greg Cobb said he closed on purchasing the Our Father’s House property Thursday. Our Father’s House is moving to the Lakeview Shopping Center on Winona Avenue and is planning an auction for March 18, he said.
He estimated the new convenience store will be open in September.
• Approved on second reading an ordinance establishing the proper use of the city’s social media sites. The ordinance was approved on first reading Feb. 21.
• Heard Mayor Joe Thallemer read a proclamation declaring March 26 to April 1 as Farmworker Awareness Week.
• Received from Skinner a paper copy of the council’s strategic plan as updated earlier this year.