Golf carts and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) could be a common sight on Ramsey city streets now that the Ramsey City Council has approved an ordinance amendment.
The ordinance, which was approved on a 4-2 vote, will allow residents to drive on city streets with their golf carts and ATVs as long as they have a permit.
Councilmembers Randy Backous and Sarah Strommen voted no.
Golf carts and all-terrain vehicles will be allowed only on city streets, not county or state roads, ditches, city sidewalks or trails, said Police Chief Jim Way.
They are also not allowed in the right of way of the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Before hitting the road, ATV and golf cart owners must get a permit from the Ramsey Police Department. The permits cost $10.
Drivers also must be 18 or older and display a “Slow Moving” warning sign on the vehicle.
While the driver’s records will be checked for the permit, the city cannot require the drivers have a license as that would be more restrictive than state statute, Way said.
If the city cannot require the drivers to have a driver’s license, then how can it enforce the rules of safe driving, Backous said.
It concerns Backous that if someone has had his/her license revoked for driving while intoxicated, they could still drive around on an ATV, he said.
The staff will not have time to periodically re-check the records to see if licenses have been revoked for current permit-holders, Backous said.
“We can only do as much as we can,” Councilmember Colin McGlone said.
If people requesting permits do not have a valid driver’s license, he would not recommend issuing a permit, Way said.
Allowing the golf carts and ATVs on the city streets with other traffic is not safe, said Strommen.
“We don’t have to allow (the golf carts and ATVs) on our city streets,” she said.
“Given the state of our roads, the last thing we need to do is add another (safety) factor.”
To help educate people wanting to use their golf carts and ATVs on city streets, the police department will be hosting a training session for permit holders, Way said.
The training session will make sure there are no misconceptions on what can and cannot be done and will help people understand the regulations, he said.
Drivers violating the city’s ordinance could be charged with a petty misdemeanor and be fined $300.
The training session, which is not mandatory, is planned for mid-July, Way said.
While there are other cities that allow golf carts and ATVs on their roads, “we don’t have the time or money to spend on the training classes,” Backous said.
As they continue to hear with other city issues, “we don’t care about what other cities do,” he said.
Councilmember Jeff Wise said he does not think there will be a lot of interest.
“We are not going to see 100 carts and ATVs on the road. There will only be a few using them to get one place to another,” he said.
Allowing the use of golf carts and ATVs on city streets is something he has advocated, said Mayor Bob Ramsey.
It is a freedom and liberty issue for him and he hopes the county will open its roads up to the same use, he said.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org