Council rejects golf carts on city streets


HUBER HEIGHTS — If you were getting that golf cart ready to drive on the streets of Huber Heights, you might want to reconsider. City council Monday night decided not to approve a measure that would have made golf carts legal on city streets with a 25 mph speed limit.

According to the ordinance that was before city council Monday, the carts would be legal but would not be allowed on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or higher, such as Taylorsville and Old Troy Pike. The ordinance included restrictions on children riding in the carts – children younger than four-years-old would be prohibited and older children under a certain height also would not be allowed to ride in the carts on city streets.

When the vote was taken, four council members voted for the ordinance while Nancy Byrge and Ed Lyons voted no. Two council members, Mark Campbell and Janell Smith, were absent from Monday’s meeting.

The city’s charter requires a vote of five council members for an ordinance to pass. With Campbell and Smith gone, the four votes weren’t enough, so the measure failed.

The unusual vote prompted Mayor Tom McMasters to call for discussion by council on how to handle votes when council members are absent. One of his concerns was that council members could manipulate votes simply by staying away from meetings. He suggested the absent members be counted as no votes. That would have made Monday’s vote on the golf carts a 4-4 tie. Under the charter’s rules, the mayor casts the deciding vote when there is a 4-4 tie.

“Council needs to define what it wants to do with absent members,” McMasters said.

Councilman Tyler Starline suggested City Law Director Jerry McDonald to look into the issue so it can be discussed at the next council work session.

The absence of Campbell and Smith sparked another disagreement during the meeting. When a vote was taken to excuse their absences from the meeting, three council members – Starline, Glenn Otto and Richard Shaw – voted no, making their absence unexcused. Byrge called their vote “petty.” After the meeting Starline said he could not speak for other council members but said council members should provide a reason for absences to other council members.

Otto returned to the golf cart issue at the end of the meeting.

“I was bit disappointed with the legislation on the golf carts,” he said. “Not because of the golf carts themselves, personally I don’t think I’ll ever get one. But I think we’ve got to start thinking a little forward and I believe this is just the way we’re going in society. Things are changing. We have to get with the future and we can’t just sit back and be uncomfortable with new things.”

Monday’s vote doesn’t necessarily mean the golf cart issue has hit a dead end. According to City Council Clerk Tony Rodgers, council can start the process again or take up the issue if Byrge or Lyons makes a motion to reconsider.

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Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters reads a proclamation honoring the Wayne Township/Huber Heights Historical Society for its work on the 60th anniversary of Huber Homes. Pat Stephens, Valerie Slanker, Ralph Stephens and Judy Blankenship are pictured with McMasters.
http://www.hhcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/35/2017/09/web1_history.jpegHuber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters reads a proclamation honoring the Wayne Township/Huber Heights Historical Society for its work on the 60th anniversary of Huber Homes. Pat Stephens, Valerie Slanker, Ralph Stephens and Judy Blankenship are pictured with McMasters. Photo by Dave Lindeman

By Dave Lindeman

For the Courier

Reach Dave Lindeman at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.