CHESTER - As of today, golf carts are banned from Chester city streets.
Chester City Council voted 3-2 on Monday to prohibit the driving of golf carts on city streets - an issue that has attracted council's attention recently over safety concerns. Voting for the ban were councilmen Dennis Murray, John Woodruff and Brian Handley. Voting against the ban were councilmen Mike Dotson and Steve Shuman.
"I don't think the majority of people in the city want them, and I've got to represent the majority," Handley said.
Council's vote came after 30 minutes of spirited debate about the issue, including comments from several Chester residents.
Speaking in favor of the status quo, but acknowledging the need for some regulation, were former city councilwoman Dana Picciarelli and her daughter, Toni Snyder.
Picciarelli said she called the city two years ago, before she bought her golf cart, to ask if they were permitted. "They told us there are no rules," she said.
Picciarelli said she drives the golf cart mainly on back streets for errands. Snyder said she uses hers to ride to the grocery store, run errands and take her children to McDonald's.
"No one's ever approached us to tell us we've done anything wrong," Picciarelli said.
The women said they've added seat belts, lights, horns and parking brakes to their golf carts. The only thing they don't have, they said, are "slow moving vehicle" signs.
"I have no problem following any rules. I think the code should be enforced," Snyder said.
Prior to council's vote, city Solicitor April Raines said state law allows golf carts on city streets as a "low speed vehicle," provided the speed limit is 25 mph or less. Also required is a title and registration, insurance, an inspection and a valid driver's license, Raines said.
Federal guidelines also require turn signals, mirrors, a windshield, seat belts, headlights and tail lights, she said. Raines said no golf cart in Chester is legal according to those guidelines, raising liability concerns for the city.
"We've had a couple incidents where (motorists) almost hit them," Mayor Ken Morris said. "Back street or main street-it doesn't matter. ... None of the golf carts riding around town are legal."
Police Chief Ken Thorn said he has no problem with the golf carts as long as they are up to code.
"Who's going to enforce it?" Handley said. "I don't want our officers tied up with enforcing golf cart regulations."
After the discussion, Murray moved to ban all golf carts and Woodruff seconded the motion.
Morris said the ban takes effect immediately.
Asked what she is going to do now, Picciarelli said, "Send them a bill for what it's cost me. We have all this money in it."