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Council ponders cart rules

COVINGTON - Golf carts could soon be allowed on state routes where the speed limit is less than 35 mph and allowed to cross state intersections.

The City Council will take up the issue at its Monday night meeting, slated for 6:30 p.m. at Covington City Hall.

"We're proposing a change to add a couple of streets back on to the system that were previously prohibited," Police Chief Stacey Cotton said.

Currently, the city's golf cart ordinance states that carts are totally prohibited on state routes or other streets with speed limits more than 35 mph and can only cross state routes at DOT-designated crossings.

That means the carts are not allowed on the Square in downtown Covington.

However, the city recently got word from the DOT that the carts can be driven on state routes if the speed limit is less than 35 mph and may cross any state route regardless of its speed limit.

If the City Council approves the ordinance amendment, the Square and other state routes will be opened to golf carts.

Cotton said he doesn't foresee that causing a big safety hazard.

"It's the same safety issue for bicyclists, and they have the right to cross state routes," he said.

Golf carts are permitted under state law and regulated by local ordinance, Cotton said.

"In absence of our ordinance people can ride golf carts. The only thing our ordinance allows us to do is put more regulations on them. The safety issue is not the city of Covington's but for the driver of the vehicle," he said.

About 18 permits have been issued by the Covington Police Department since the ordinance was enacted in November 2008.

The CPD inspects all golf carts to make sure they are safe to drive.

Roadworthy golf carts should be equipped with windshields, turn signals, brakes, a horn, headlights, brake lights, safe tires and, if gas-powered, an exhaust system.

Once the inspection is completed, the owner will receive a sticker to place on the golf cart.

Permits cost $15 and are effective for five years.

For more information, or questions regarding streets where golf carts are allowed, call the CPD at 770-786-7605 or visit www.covingtonpolice.com, click on "permits" and then "golf cart permits."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.