golf carts

A golf cart rides along with traffic through the Pier Village.

The Glynn County Commission will have a lot on its plate this evening, including a proposed county-wide ordinance regulating golf carts.

Commissioner Peter Murphy, who represents St. Simons, Jekyll and Sea islands, started pushing for the ordinance last year, hoping to address concerns about golf carts clogging traffic on major arteries of St. Simons Island.

“I don’t necessarily think Glynn County needs (a golf cart ordinance), but I can tell you St. Simons needs one,” Murphy said. “When I drive over on the mainland, I don’t see them driving around. Maybe they’re staying in neighborhoods, which is lovely, but on St. Simons the number is phenomenal.”

Among other things, the new ordinance will require registration, insurance and safety equipment on certain golf carts.

Legally speaking, golf carts are divided into two groups based on speed. Any cart that can travel at 20 miles per hour at most is classified as a personal transportation vehicle, or PTV. A low-speed vehicle, or LSV, is a cart that can travel at least 20 miles per hour but no faster than 25 miles per hour.

An LSV can travel on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less, while PTVs are relegated to those with speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less.

On St. Simons Island, where golf carts are particularly prevalent, this restricts the vehicles from traveling on stretches of Frederica Road and other major avenues.

Registration for PTVs can be purchased from the county’s Community Development Department for $15 and are good for five years. Additionally, owners must purchase liability insurance and install seat belts and child restraints.

Georgia regulates LSV on the state level. It has its own provisions for registration, insurance and safety equipment.

The ordinance would require the use of seat belts and child restraints on PTVs, but state law does not require the same of LSV owners and riders.

“My greatest disappointment is, in the state law, there is no provision that you have to use the safety equipment or the child safety device in the LSVs,” Murphy said. “Thus far, the county attorneys have suggested to me that they don’t think it’s possible to add something to the ordinance that would override that deficiency in the state law.”

Efforts by the county to have state law amended have so far been unsuccessful, he said.

While the ordinance’s passage isn’t a sure thing, Murphy said the county police department is ready to begin enforcing it.

“The important thing to emphasize is we’re bringing our county into compliance with what the state is saying we should have done all along,” Murphy said.

The proposed ordinance does include provisions for special events.

“The county manager is authorized to temporarily waive the registration and insurance requirements for special events when it is likely that out-of-county residents may bring PTVs as participants,” according to a memo to the commission from Senior Assistant County Attorney Will Worley.

The commission will hold a public hearing on the ordinance.

Commissioners will also consider, among other things:

• An appeal of the Glynn County Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision to restrict the use of Village Drive to access the waterfront portion of the St. Simons Land Trust’s Guale Preserve park.

• Spending $1.94 million on a veterans memorial park in downtown Brunswick.

• Amending the St. Simons Island McKinnon Airport’s planned development text to allow additional commercial development.

• Reorganizing county department heads, increasing the pay grades of all but one position in the process.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.

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