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Dugger ponders golf cart ordinance for 2013

Monday, November 12, 2012

DUGGER -- A new golf cart ordinance based on those enacted by neighboring communities could be in place in Dugger by early 2013.

The measure, which has not yet been reduced to a written ordinance, could be considered by the Dugger Town Council in its November session, President Dwight Nielson said last Monday.

However, several components of the proposed ordinance are already solidifying, and generally align with the state restrictions on the carts.

First, no one under age 16 will be allowed to drive the vehicles without adult supervision.

That's been a problem for the town in recent months, with recurrent complaints about carts steered by very young drivers nearly colliding with cars.

All carts -- which will likely include golf carts, Rangers, Gators, Polarises and others of their type -- will further likely have to be registered annually, Nielson said.

Annual licensing fees will also probably be enacted, although Nielson said they're unlikely to be as expensive as they are in surrounding communities.

"We don't want to break people," Nielson said, suggesting a $10 annual fee might be a good number to start with regarding the fees.

Comparatively, in Linton those who must register their carts pay an initial annual fee of $50.

However, those registering their carts will only pay $50 the first year, so long as they keep their registration current.

Thereafter, Linton's annual renewal fees will run only $25.

Other requirements proposed by the town mirror the state's statute. The carts must have front and rear lights as well as an orange triangle signifying it is a slow-moving vehicle.

However, the town's ordinance also potentially mirrors a statewide limitation upon the carts which affects every Hoosier.

The Indiana General Assembly also passed Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 113 this year, which imposes multiple requirements on areas outside municipalities -- those subject to county regulations -- for golf carts. Among these, counties which pass golf cart statutes:

* must require that an individual who operates a golf cart have a driver's license;

* must stipulate that any fine assessed for a violation of a local statute be deposited in the general fund of the community.

In Dugger, Nielson suggested the town set a low fine initially. "Again, we don't want to break people," he suggested.

* must set a limit on the number of passengers allowed on the cart.

Dugger also intends to do this, as Nielson suggested "There must be a seat for every person riding on the cart. One seat for every rider."

* counties also are limited in allowing carts to cross state highways, such as Indiana 54.

Per the state, they "may allow an operator of a golf cart to cross a highway in the state highway system, at right angles, in order to travel from one highway under the jurisdiction of the county to another highway under the jurisdiction of the county when the operation can be done safely."

Nielson was uncertain whether local regulation could adversely affect much of the carts' travel within the town, which is bisected east and west by State Road 54 and by State Road 159 running north and south.

Notably, SEA 113 also specifies that a violation of a golf cart ordinance highway in a county is considered an ordinance violation.

Should the measure pass, it will culminate years of effort by the town to limit golf cart use.

Town Marshal David Heaton previously presented a golf cart ordinance to the prior town council, suggesting the council restrict the carts to licensed drivers -- or, if kids are allowed to operate the carts -- only allow younger drivers when accompanied by licensed adults.

Further, the marshal suggested requiring lights and the red-and-orange triangles required on tractors and other slow moving vehicles by the state.

During October's meeting, Nielson, polling the opinion of the crowd, asked if anyone opposed the golf cart ordinance. None did. Several, however, supported it.

"That tells me all I need to know," he said.

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As a minimum, they should be licensed drivers. There are judgement issues, such as, how fast is that other vehicle going and can I make it across the road?

-- Posted by ellis1 on Tue, Nov 13, 2012, at 9:13 PM

The golf cart fee is a good source of revenue for a community. You would think with the financial woes in Dugger they would keep their cart fee in conjunction with the surrounding communities...just something to consider and my two cents!!

-- Posted by #1LakerFan on Wed, Nov 14, 2012, at 12:38 PM

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