Belpre council discusses golf carts

BELPRE — Belpre City Council met on Monday evening to discuss business as usual, but a hot-button topic of discussion quickly emerged: the use of golf carts on city streets.

All standing committee members were present to hear complaints from constituents who own golf carts or golf cars and would like to use them on the road.

Belpre resident Karen Locke addressed Police and Fire Committee Chairman and Council member Donna Miller on her desire to see the Golf Cart Ordinance brought to the attention of the council to be readdressed and reconsidered.

“We are not the only city interested in the use of golf carts,” Locke said during the meeting. “We are also a small community that is generally safe and we have a number of responsible folks who would like to use them.”

The allowance of golf carts on the streets of Belpre is an issue that has been discussed for several years. In 2014, a proposed ordinance was voted down by the council. In 2016, another ordinance was proposed and no further action was taken.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, golf carts and other under speed vehicles are authorized at the discretion of the local authority where they are to be operated.

Golf carts are permitted on many public roads in Ohio with a speed limit of 35 mph or less if they are deemed “street safe,” meaning they have proper plates, registration and turn signal equipment.

Belpre resident Tom Logston, who was also outspoken during the Golf Cart Ordinance in 2014, stood before the council to express his desire for the ordinance to be revisited.

Logston purchased a golf car for his handicapped wife several years ago. Golf cars are considered street legal in many parts of Ohio and are easier to operate for those who are handicapped than motor vehicles.

“It’s equipped with headlights, taillights, everything,” Logston said. “I don’t know how many of you have family members that are handicapped, but many cities have made these provisions.”

Miller assured residents that the issue would not be ignored and that it would be addressed at the next meeting on Aug. 12.

“We need time to prepare to address this appropriately,” Miller said.

Mayor Michael Lorentz has concerns about allowing golf carts to operate on the streets.

“We have this issue and people want to ride these golf carts and I’m not sure it’s a good idea,” Lorentz said. “In some parts of Belpre they would have to pass through major roadways like Route 618, and that could be unsafe.”

In other business:

* Three firefighters were sworn in to the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department: David Starcher, Chris Guile and Kareem Wright. Starcher and Guile were promoted to lieutenant, while Wright was promoted to safety officer.

* Radio broadcaster Kirk McCall, who was in attendance, was recognized on his upcoming induction into the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

* Belpre Tree Commission approved new walkway to be created at Belpre Civitan Park next spring.

* Lorentz met with constituents and boards to discuss housing and rehabilitation for those impacted by the opioid crisis.

* The Burger King in Belpre is set to open mid-August.

* The city said it will continue to repair potholes in roads.

* A request was made to assess the timing of the traffic light at the corner of Main Street and the Parkersburg-Belpre Bridge.