After receiving a number of complaints from various lake associations, like the Bass Lake Property Owners Association, the Koontz Lake Association and the Boa Shores Association, the Starke County Commissioners this week held a public hearing for an ordinance regulating the use of golf carts in the county. Commissioner Kathy Norem explained during the hearing that the associations around Koontz and Bass lakes requested that the commissioners consider an ordinance regulating golf carts around the lakes, and with the sheriff’s input and help from the county attorney and highway superintendent, Norem said they now have a drafted ordinance that should suit the needs of the county.
Because the ordinance allows for penalties for violations, Norem said the commissioners must hold hearings before it can become official. She said the ordinance regulates golf carts and other four-wheeled utility vehicles – or Gators – but does not regulate mopeds or scooters. The ordinance calls for registration and inspection of the vehicles by the sheriff’s department, and they can only be operated in areas with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Further, they cannot be operated on sidewalks and they cannot tow other vehicles or objects. There is an annual $25 fee associated with registering golf carts, and a curfew of 11 p.m. is enforced. Golf carts that do not have headlights can only be operated from dawn til dusk.
The vehicles must have rearview mirrors, serial numbers, brakes, and brake lights, and can only be operated by licensed drivers. The vehicles cannot be operated on state highways.
Fines for violations of the ordinance can be as steep as $250.
The commissioners took the matter under advisement and will hold another hearing in the future.