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Golf Cart Law Veers to Traffic Authority

The town's traffic authority will have to decide if golf carts have a place on Stratford roads.

Updated 1 p.m. Tuesday

It will be up to the town's traffic authority whether or not golf carts will be allowed to travel on town roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 25 mph.

The Stratford Town Council initially referred the proposal to the town's ordinance committee. However, at that body's meeting Monday it was announced the proposed legislation needs to be reviewed and ruled on by the town's traffic authority.

"According to state statue ... only the traffic authority of the town has the right to allow or not allow golf carts," said Councilman Craig Budnick (R-7).

The town website lists the following members of the traffic authority:

  • Tom Moore, mayor's representative
  • Maurice McCarthy, director of public works
  • Gary Catalano, public works supervisor
  • John Casey, town engineer
  • Lt. Patrick Freer, Stratford Police Department
  • Lt. Celeste Robitaille, SPD
  • Capt. Michael Fernandes, SPD

And the purpose of the traffic authority, according to the website:

The Traffic Authority shall have the authority to provide for the regulation and use of streets and highways, including but not limited to the regulation of parking, speed and traffic, in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes.

A motion to strike the golf cart proposal from the agenda passed unanimously. The proposed legislation is now in the hands of the traffic authority.

***

Original Article: Golf Cart Law on the Drawing Board Again [Poll]

Do you think allowing golf carts to travel on Stratford roads would benefit residents?

Published Jan. 11

Almost a year after it was stricken from a town committee's agenda, town officials are revisiting the idea of allowing golf carts on public roads.

"I've been contacted by numerous people in my district to bring it up," Councilman Chris Barnaby (R-1) told Stratford Patch Tuesday. Barnaby said he and his first district constituents have amassed a list of about 18 talking points in favor of permitting golf carts on town roads.

The proposed legislation was , when then-committee member Thomas Malloy said it would only affect a "precious few people" who own golf carts.

The discussion is made possible via that provides towns the option to pass regulations allowing the use of golf carts on town roads, with a few restrictions, including:

  • Operation during daylight hours only
  • Golf carts need to be equipped with a horn
  • Golf carts need to be equipped with a flag visible to motorists
  • No operation on streets with posted speed limits above 25 mph
  • The operator must have a valid driver’s license

The proposed ordinance resurfaced Monday in the form of a Town Council agenda item sponsored by Barnaby. [The item, 8.1 ORDINANCE re: Golf Cart Travel on Public Roads (#12-01), can be read in full by clicking on the attached PDF in the photo gallery.] Before the Council meeting commenced, a group of Lordship residents spoke in support of the proposal.

Jefferson Street resident Chuck Vernazza said it would "add another dimension to the Lordship community." He said locals can use their golf carts to go to church, the beach or a nearby grocery store. Vernazza added golf carts are environmentally clean and do not go faster than 15 to 20 mph.

"I believe it would definitely help our community," Birch Street resident Jeff Trombly said. "I do a lot of walking. I don't see the point of jumping in the car and driving two blocks."

Trombly said allowing golf carts on town roads would also help senior citizens get around more safely. 

Kathy Allagno, also of Jefferson Street, suggested that the ordinance include a route from the seawall to Short Beach to Long Beach. She said it would lessen the noise from cars along the seawall.

Good for the Whole Town?

"As I had seen it presented I didn't know you were limiting it to Lordship," said Sonja Devitt of Hilltop Drive. She argued that narrow streets in Stratford such as Whippoorwill Lane would be dangerous for golf carts to travel on. "I see a tragedy waiting to happen," she told the Council.

Barnaby said the ordinance could potentially only be applied to one community. He said the proposal is modeled after one that Old Saybrook has already adopted.

"I do agree it needs some work," he said. "I'm a huge proponent of safety."

Councilwoman Stephanie Philips (D-2) echoed Barnaby's safety concerns, saying "it needs a lot of careful thought." However, she said the ordinance needs to be applicable to the whole town, not just one community such as Lordship. Philips was recently replaced as the chairperson of the ordinance committee by fellow Council member Jim Connor (R-8).

Liability, Enforcement

Under the proposed law, the town would not be liable for any potential damages if a golf cart were to be involved in a crash with another vehicle or pedestrian, Barnaby said. He said insurance on the registered golf cart would cover the town's liability.

Another issue that remains to be addressed fully is how the law will be enforced by Stratford police, Philips said.

In the end, Council members voted that the proposal go back to the ordinance committee for further examination. It was recommended that the police department weigh in on the roads that would be applicable under the ordinance.

The ordinance committee meets on the last Monday of the month.

Editor's note: The original publication date of this article, Jan. 11, has been changed for layout purposes.

Herb Morrison January 25, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Just dangerous to the driver of the cart, the operators of other vehicles, and the community at large: http://www.ketknbc.com/news/man-killed-in-morning-golf-cart-wreck
Herb Morrison January 25, 2012 at 03:20 AM
It’s endless. With the dangers known regarding golf carts and roadways, I was think that there may even be liability to a municipality allowing it. http://www.wpxi.com/news/29222014/detail.html http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-golf-cart-elderly-woman-killed-20120109,0,3544459.story http://blog.al.com/breaking/2009/11/71-year-old_athens_man_killed.html Mule drawn cart related accident: strange but true, I guess. http://www.thetimesnews.com/articles/mules-49513-cart-fayetteville.html http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/lake-elsinore/lake-elsinore-headlines-index/20100902-man-killed-in-canyon-lake-golf-cart-crash.ece
Mike January 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Let's see what the Comissioner of Motor Vehicles says about this. I think I'll call him this morning.
Craig Budnick January 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Mike, I wanted to thank you for your original comment back on January 11th. That is what sparked my interest in who has the authority to regulate golf carts in the state and towns. As I discovered CGS CHAPTER 249 TRAFFIC CONTROL AND HIGHWAY SAFETY Sec. 14-300g. Operation of golf carts. Equipment. Insurance, specifically grants the "traffic authority" which is clearly defined in Stratford as Per §5-80 of Town Code to regulate golf carts on the road. To everyone's concern about being a waste of time and money.....this is how a democracy works. The citizens bring requests to their government and we are obligated to discuss as frivolous as they may seem at times. Though what is frivolous to one may be very important to another so we try to accommodate as many constituent requests as possible. I am looking forward to addressing Stratford's serious economic woes. Instead of people getting upset about golf carts, wildlife feeding and Council meeting start times....we as a town should be outraged that the Federal Government continues to hold the Avco property hostage and not pay for the cleanup so it can be sold to a developer for a fair price. Perhaps if all 51,000 residents could come together for one cause, this would be a great one. Lower taxes and the future economic development of the town lies in that property. I welcome the feedback of all town residents. Craig Budnick Councilman 7th District Town of Stratford
Sarah May 29, 2012 at 10:57 PM
The traffic authority is holding a meeting about the golf cart ordinance at 2:30 on Wednesday, June 20 regarding the use of them in Lordship and Oronoque communities (as both meet the CT guidelines). Many towns and communities across the country use the eco-friendly carts (and space saving) to get around small communities like those mentioned above. I'll be there in support!

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