Councils consider allowing golf carts on streets

HANCOCK COUNTY — Drivers could soon share the road with golf carts in two Hancock County towns.

Greenfield and Fortville residents might soon be able to legally drive golf carts on their streets — a request they’ve been making of local officials for years.

Officials are moving forward to put rules on the books allowing golf carts to hit the road, with safety at the forefront of the discussion.

State law leaves the issue in the hands of local officials, who can pass an ordinance allowing golf carts on local roads if they choose.

Greenfield began discussing the issue earlier this year, and council members have asked their attorney to draft an ordinance. In Fortville, the police chief has asked the town to update an existing ordinance to clarify golf carts are permitted.

Though those conversations are happening independent of each other, residents across the county over the years have asked their officials to allow them to take the vehicles on the road.

Greenfield City Council member Gary McDaniel said he’s heard debate about a golf cart ordinance since taking office in 2012. It’s time to move forward with one, he said.

As the process moves forward, town and city officials will set speed limits, consider seat belts requirements and identify busy roads where the carts can’t be driven.

Both new ordinances are expected to prohibit drivers from taking their golf carts on state roads and highways; locally, those include U.S. 36 in Fortville and State Road 9 and U.S. 40 in Greenfield.

A post about the issue on the Daily Reporter’s Facebook page drew mixed reaction from residents. Some commenters argued golf carts should be considered no different than bicycles or other motorized vehicles allowed on public roads. Other worried other fast-moving traffic would be dangerous for golf-cart drivers.

In Fortville, Police Chief Bill Knauer has led the effort to permit residents to use their golf carts, noting the town’s existing ordinance is vague and leaves his officers unsure of how to enforce the local rules.

Knauer asked the town council to update the ordinance, which prohibits off-road vehicles from being driven on local roadways but permits vehicles with certain kinds of brakes, horns and headlights. The language suggests golf carts should be allowed, but without specifically mentioning them, officers have been left unsure how to advise residents or address complaints, Knauer said.

Fortville’s new version of the ordinance, which received preliminary approval from the council Monday, defines what is considered a golf cart, outlines rules for registering carts at town hall and details where the vehicles can be driven, town attorney Alex Intermill said.

Greenfield council members have been reviewing the issue since April, when a resident came forward to ask they allow golf carts to be driven on roads with lower speed limits. Council members asked the city’s traffic safety committee, made up of police officers and council members, to study the issue and return with some recommendations.

Greenfield Police Department Lt. C.W. Murnan, part of the committee, recently gave council members suggestions on when and where the carts can be driven based off similar ordinances in other cities.

He suggested vehicles be equipped with headlights, taillights and turn signals, and residents drive them only between sunrise and sunset — rules city council members supported.

Fortville and Greenfield officials agree the ordinances should keep carts out of areas frequented by runners and walkers.

In Greenfield, that might bar carts from the Pennsy Trail, Murnan said. Fortville’s drafted ordinance prohibits residents from driving the carts in parks unless a path is paved.

Murnan said golf cart drivers will also be required to follow the same rules cars have when they’re on the road.

Council members are expected to spend the next few weeks weighing the issue before deciding whether to pass an ordinance.

Staff writer Caitlin VanOverberghe contributed to this report.

Have your say

Two Hancock County towns, Greenfield and Fortville, are considering golf-cart ordinances, and your representatives want to hear from you. Here’s how to get in touch:

Greenfield City Council

Gary McDaniel, District 1: 317-908-6399

Mitch Pendlum, District 2: 317-462-3583

Keely Butrum, District 3: kbutrum@greenfieldin.org

Jeff Lowder, District 4: 317-586-7247

Kerry Grass, District 5: 317-467-4970

Dan Riley, at-large: 317-462-0903

Joe Skvarenina, at-large: 317-518-1467

Fortville Town Council

Bill Hiday, bhiday@fortvilleindiana.org

Mike Frischkorn, mfrischkorn@fortvilleindiana.org

Robert Holland, rholland@fortvilleindiana.org

Tim Hexamer, thexamer@fortvilleindiana.org

Lenzy Hendrix, lhendrix@fortvilleindiana.org

Author photo
Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.