After weeks of discussion, the Winter Garden City Commission acted on a measure to adopt a downtown golf cart district following unanimous approval during its meeting Thursday, June 10.
In previous meetings, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer asked for more time to evaluate safety concerns and how the measure would relate to state law.
“We’re very restricted and limited by state statutes … so it really precludes us from doing a lot of different things and it ties our hands,” he said. “By state statutes — when it comes to allowing roads for golf carts — we most first and foremost find that roads are safe for golf carts, and then make a decision to allow golf carts. That’s what has made this whole exercise so difficult. The trouble is state law really hasn’t followed what has taken place in the community when it comes to golf carts.”
In the proposal, the city will make two locations — Crown Point Cross Road and the Winter Oaks neighborhood — more golf cart friendly.
“Those were easier ones to do,” Bollhoefer said. “So what we want to do is do those first and then come back later and see how successful we are there patrolling the speed and making sure it’s safe, and if those are successful then come back and look at these other potential communities — linking them in.”
Future areas include The Oaks at Brandy Lake, Lakeview Reserve and the Lake Cove Pointe communities.
Linking these communities is a long-term goal, but communities not in the plan will have the opportunity to travel in light vehicles, which are like golf carts but faster. They also require seatbelts and tags. According to state law, light vehicles are allowed to drive on any roads with a posted speed limit 35 mph or less, as long as there are no postings stating they cannot be on the road.
With the new golf cart zones also come some changes relating to speed and safety procedures.
“Crown Point Cross Road — it’s not an arterial road, it’s a local road — but we will lower the speed limit on that road because right now it’s at 40 mph, which makes no sense,” Bollhoefer said. “We’re going to lower the speed limit there to 25 — we feel that is fully justifiable — and this will enable several more communities to become golf-cart accessible.
“There’s also some other communities on there we’ve added who were always eligible to get on there, they just never requested it,” he said. “So, by doing this, you can see there are a significant number of more communities now that will be golf-cart accessible.”
The section in the Winter Oaks community will not be able to become legal to drive golf carts on until signs are installed, while a 20- to 30-foot section of different-colored stamped concrete will be used to raise notice of golf carts in the area, Bollhoefer said. The same measures will be taken on the far east end of Plant Street. The costs will total up to $30,000.
“That’s what it will cost to do these types of things on all these streets, but I truly believe for us to feel comfortable being safe, that’s probably the best way to approach this,” Bollhoefer said.