For the first time in Ellis County, Ovilla has allowed for the free use of golf carts in the city.
The Ovilla City Council approved the decision to allow golf carts within city limits, 3-2, during their meeting in October. Council members Rachel Huber and Doug Hunt voted against the ordinance.
City manager John Dean said the issue has popped up several times over the past couple of years. More recently, resident Perry Kaemmerling brought the matter to the attention of the council in August. Dean was asked to re-evaluate the issue and brought an ordinance before the board last month.
“It was on the agenda for three consecutive months before they actually approved it,” Dean said.
The ordinance allows the regulation and operation of golf carts on public streets in Ovilla. Under the definition, any resident can operate a golf cart as long as they apply and obtain a registration permit, affix a decal on their vehicle and meet the city standards for operation.
Although golf carts are already legal under state law, Dean said some provisions restrict free-use.
“The state law says you can do it if you’re within two miles of a golf course,” Dean explained. “There’s much of the community that doesn’t have golf courses. We’re one of those.”
Dean added that, so far, public response to the ordinance has been very welcoming. He said a few residents expressed concerns over child safety on the issue, but state law dictates that you need a driver’s license to operate a golf cart on a roadway.
Dean said there hadn’t been much dissent over the ordinance.
“There were several that were in support of it, and it kind of grew in each meeting after that,” he explained. “A lot of residents were in favor of it. We actually didn’t have anybody that expressed that they were totally against it.”
Dean commented that there were some restrictions in the ordinance. For one thing, golf carts could only operate on streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
They also have to meet equipment standards, which includes two head and tail lamps, two front and side reflectors and reflective slow-moving vehicle emblems that can be seen from at least 500 feet. Dean said they’ve additionally restricted travel on 12 residential streets that are planned to become thoroughfare roads in the future.
Nevertheless, Kaemmerling said he believes the ordinance is a good thing and will help regulate golf carts in the future.
“My two-year-old son absolutely loves riding on a golf cart,” Kaemmerling said. “Just to be able to take him up and down the street and spend some time with him; that’s probably the greatest win out of the whole thing.”
Dean said the city would kick off the application process in mid-November. The ordinance will officially take effect Dec. 1.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX