Council gives golf carts due consideration

Golf carts may be soon traversing city streets if the Hillsboro City Council follows the preference of its mayor.

The issue of allowing small motorized vehicles on city streets was introduced at the council?s Aug. 5 meeting.

City Administrator Larry Paine said Tabor College had asked if the city could make an exception to its ban of such activity by allowing the school?s work-site utility vehicles to cross D Street so staff could more easily service both halves of the campus.

Several years ago, the city had banned the use of such vehicles on streets, including golf carts, to be in compliance with state law. But the state legislature changed the law this past session to give cities discretion whether to allow it.

At the Aug. 25 meeting, Paine introduced an ordinance he had prepared that essentially would allow work-site vehicles?including those used by city staff?to drive on streets within designated districts.

Paine said the ordinance he proposed addressed only the issue he had been asked to address?work-related vehicles.

?I?ve crafted a strict-use (policy) rather than a loose one,? he said.

Paine restated the police department?s preference not to allow such vehicles on public streets for administrative and safety reasons.

Paine said the League of Kansas Municipalities recommends that if a city allows such vehicles on streets, it should make sure such vehicles are properly licensed, insured and safety-equipped including lights and signals.

During the ensuing discussion, it was mentioned that if work-site vehicles were allowed on streets, owners of golf carts would soon be asking for permission as well.

It also was stated that one local business uses a golf cart for business purposes?and crosses a street regularly in the process.

Paine said council members could think about the issue until the next meeting. But as the discussion wound down, Mayor Delores Dalke stated her preference to allow golf carts as well as work-site vehicles.

?I don?t see any reason not to,? she said. ?Hillsboro isn?t so big that we can?t deal with it (from a safety standpoint). If I had a vote, I?d vote in favor of allowing both golf carts and utility vehicles.?

The discussion continued for a few minutes longer, raising pros and cons.

When Councilor Shelby Dirks asked whether allowing these small vehicles on streets would put the city at risk for legal liability in case of an accident, city attorney Dan Baldwin said it wouldn?t.

?All you?re really doing is creating another class of vehicle (that would be included under the uniform traffic code like other vehicles),? Baldwin said.

The issue likely will be addressed at the Sept. 1 regular council meeting.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n approved the sale of two city-owned lots in Hillsboro Heights to Ag Power Inc. The two lots, located just west of Elcon Service Inc., includes about 1.5 acres at a total cost of $15,800. The sale will close Dec. 15.

n approved the mayor?s appointment of citizens to city boards: Edith Darting to another term on the Airport Board; Tim Unruh to another term, and Sue Wadkins to a first term, on the Museums Advisory Board; and Kyle Cederberg to another term on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

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