Orange Park City Council revises its golf cart policy

By Nick Blank [email protected]

ORANGE PARK — City council members discussed action on a golf cart policy, ultimately asking city staff to look into the matter.

Toward the end of Tuesday night’s meeting, City Council member Doug Benefield outlined the point.

With golf carts, Benefield said, the city is full of families and it’s best to use the vehicles without excessive regulation, although golf cart drivers should operate safely. Benefield added that the city has no substantive golf cart regulations.

“Currently, city ordinances defer to the state regarding golf carts,” he said. “They’re not specifically licensed, there’s a process to get them approved. My motion to direct staff is to draft and present to council a by-law relating to the operation of golf carts in the city.

In the Agenda Folder, the two-page City of Green Cove Springs Ordinance was posted as an example. The ordinance defines what a golf cart is, where it can be used, and what safety equipment the golf cart must have. The city must apply for permission to use a golf cart on state and federal highways, which would extend to U.S. Highway 17.

Orange Park Police Chief Gary Goble said there was a safety hazard and used St. Johns County as an example. Golf cart regulations are difficult to enforce, he said.

“You can really see that young people don’t care that much,” Goble said. “We can make it happen, there needs to be a solid order in place.”

Mayor Randy Anderson said residents should be notified of a possible change. He asked about the panels related to the gold carts and the cost.

“How are we going to spread the word? Anderson asked.

Deputy Mayor Alan Watt wanted to see the driver’s age established in an ordinance, especially if he was driving a vehicle on one of the city’s major thoroughfares. He said the issue had already been rejected by committees.

“It’s been pitched top-down for years,” Watt said. “… For me, these are neighborhood vehicles. They shouldn’t be on national highways, they shouldn’t be across town. They should be a way to get around your neighborhood.

Resident Angela Wester said the committees asked the city council to do nothing about the issue in a previous vote. She recalled that Moosehaven had a nice golf cart community, although she had safety issues, and asked that the article go to the committees.

“It’s definitely a first-world problem,” Wester said.

After several meetings and hearings, City Council also passed its $30 million budget in final reading at the start of the meeting. An amendment to remove a $66,000 code enforcement officer job failed with a 3-2 vote.

The game was extended for 15 minutes and then another extension was rejected 3-2 as it required a super majority.

Michael C. Ford