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Parkville aldermen vote to allow it

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Come March 15, 2012 the City of Parkville will permit golf carts and low speed vehicles on public streets.

“When I started talking to people about this there was a lot of discussion about establishing Parkville from anywhere else,” said Chris Fisher, alderman of Ward 3. “There is certainly not another city in the Kansas City area that allows this.”

Fisher said everyone he has spoken with has been onboard with this idea including Park University, the police, the chamber, the downtown, the commons, and the EDC.

“Neighborhood vehicles” will be treated just like any other vehicle on the roadway. That is, the operator of the golf cart or low speed vehicle can be pulled over for the same reasons any other vehicle can be pulled over and ticketed.

As outlined in the Missouri Revised Statute 304.034, golf carts are prohibited from being operated on any state or federal highway. The statute also provides that no golf cart “shall cross any highway at an intersection where the highway being crossed has a posted speed limit of more than forty-five miles per hour.”

Police Chief Kevin Chrisman, who spoke in favor of allowing neighborhood vehicles on public roads, said golf carts must be equipped with adequate brakes.

“Anybody who operates either one of these vehicles on a public street is subject to the actual traffic ordinances that we have currently on the books,” said Chrisman.

The ordinance amending Title
III of the City of Parkville code of ordinances to allow “neighborhood vehicles” on public streets within the city limits of Parkville was drafted by Fisher.

A golf cart as defined in the ordinance states that a golf cart “is not capable of exceeding speeds in excess of 25 per hour.”

On the other hand, low speed vehicles, described as 4-wheeled motorized vehicles that can reach speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour, however, cannot exceed twenty-five miles per hour.

Marc Sportsman, alderman of Ward 4, said the limited speed of golf carts does not make them any safer.

“If you're in Sun City West and you have two golf carts collide at 10 miles an hour that's one thing,” said Sportsman. “If you're in Downtown Parkville or Bell Road (in a golf cart) and you collide with a car that weighs 3,000 pounds doing 25 miles an hour, that is different problem.”

Sportsman, spoke out in further opposition citing his concern for safety and potential liability.

“Golf carts are built for golf courses. They have brakes on the back wheels and they’re top heavy. They are great on a golf course, but I don't know how great they are mixed up in traffic.”

When asked by Sportsman what the city attorney, Jack Campbell, thought of the issue of liability, Campbell acknowledged that Missouri law does permit the use of golf carts and LSV's on public streets but said he was “not in position to render an opinion” on policy given that he just received a copy of the city ordinance on Saturday and has not had a sufficient time to review all the details of the proposed ordinance.

Campbell then noted this was his final meeting as city attorney.
“I haven't looked at this ordinance enough to know what could be added to it with respect to golf carts to give an opinion,” said Campbell.

Campbell then suggested moving forward with the passing of the ordinance with the option of preparing several amendments if necessary.

Similarly to any other vehicle on the roadway, golf cart and low speed vehicles will be registered with the city, which includes a $50 fee.

Golf cart operators must have a valid driver's license, but will not be required to wear seat belts nor helmets. The statute further provides that low speed vehicles must be equipped with headlamps, front and rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, reflex reflectors, as well as an exterior and or interior mirror.

Mayor Gerry Richardson asked the EDC to weigh in on this matter because of their interest in the passing of the ordinance, as well as the timing of its passing.

“Certainly from our perspective sooner is better than later, but not in the context of cutting off debate or having a full or open discussion of what is best for the community,” said Jim Allen, board member of the EDC.

Allen added that Parkville has numerous things which distinguish the city from any other city and would like to see neighborhood vehicles on the public streets of Parkville.

“It is one more thing that makes us distinctive,” said Allen.

Aldermen then passed the ordinance which allows “neighborhood vehicles” on public streets effective March 15, 2012.

Sportsman cast the sole dissenting vote.

In other business:
•Creative, Connected, Charming. That was the tagline Jenni Glass, executive director of the Economic Development Council, presented to the board Tuesday night along with a brand new logo for the City of Parkville.

•Bruce Culley, city auditor, handed over the final 2010 audit report to the board.

Culley acknowledged there had been some recent changes in the footnotes, but no changes in the numbers since presenting the audit to the board at their last scheduled meeting.

As outlined in the audit, the city has a total long term debt outstanding in the amount of $18,321,693 which is reported as liabilities under government activities and business-type activities. The city of Parkville's total lease note and bond debt decreased by $552,733 over 2010.

The audit indicates that the city's assets exceed its liabilities by $6,300,000 at this year’s end.

The board unanimously approved the 2010 audit.