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PTC staff says gas cart ban may be tough to enforce

A proposal to ban nearly all gas-powered golf carts in 10 years, and halt the registration of newly-purchased gas carts sometime next year, will be considered Thursday night by the Peachtree City Council.

The latest version of the ban would not be enforced on disabled drivers who have a valid disabled parking permit; also, golf cart dealers who rent gas golf carts would be allowed to get new decals over the next 10 years as they replace their rental fleet.

The ban would forbid any gas-powered golf cart from being registered after 10 years, but currently-owned gas carts would be grandfathered until that date.

However, there is a significant concern from city staff about the ability to enforce the ban, as state law “prohibits any inspection relating to the registration of carts, making it impossible to verify whether a person registering a new cart has an electric or gasoline powered cart,” according to a memo to council authored by city staff.

The proposed ban has been a source of wide-ranging debate. Some citizens have favored the ban, citing the foul odor and noise emitted by gas-powered carts. Others, however, have argued that the unlimited range of a gas golf cart is particularly useful to families and the elderly who depend on them for their only means of transportation.

About 5 percent of the city’s registered golf carts are gas-powered, leaving some to argue that there isn’t much of a problem with gas carts to begin with.

Golf cart dealers who rent carts have said they cannot rent electric carts because of the possibility that when the charge runs out, their clients will become stranded.

Further concerns about enforcement from staff include:

• The police department has no way to verify whether a gas-powered cart with a valid decal was registered before or after the ban went into effect;

• Staffing levels will restrict the ability to verify the ongoing validity of disabled permits; and

• The ban may not address citizen complaints about gas-powered carts, which typically come after the July 4th holidays when dealers are renting a high volume of gas-powered carts. The city exempts cart registration requirements during the holiday and the amendment exempts rental carts, “so the most common cause of complaints will still be authorized under the ordinance,” according to the memo.

At an August council meeting, Councilman Eric Imker said he thinks golf cart technology will be dramatically improved in 10 years including better batteries to provide a longer range. At that meeting Imker said he supported the ban, along with Councilman Doug Sturbaum and Mayor Don Haddix.

Councilwoman Kim Learnard, who did not support the ban, said she wanted to hear information about such technology before the ordinance was adopted, and said she was extremely concerned about the potential for a negative impact on the city’s tourism and local businesses.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch, who also opposed the gas golf cart ban, said the ban would devalue gas golf carts currently owned by residents.

Fleisch went so far as to call a gas cart ban “an unwanted government intrusion into our lives.”

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