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Citizen opinion mixed on proposed golf cart ordinance for Olde Town

CONYERS — The sentiments of residents who spoke about a proposed golf cart ordinance in Olde Town were mixed, which reflected the opinions of the City Council members, who continue to mull the idea.

The Conyers City Council held the first reading a proposed ordinance Wednesday that would allow for the use of low-speed vehicles and motorized carts — including golf carts — on certain streets in Olde Town where the speed limit does not exceed 35 mph.

Even though the passage of a new ordinance requires two readings to be held, the Conyers City Council normally holds the first reading and then waives the second reading before voting.

However, the council decided in this case to give the public more time to weigh in on the proposed ordinance.

“A lot of people in the community have requested a golf cart ordinance, and some have reservations,” said Councilman John Fountain. “This has come through my committee and I asked that we hold just the first reading to get public input to see if they have concerns that we have not thought of.”

Conyers resident Kathy Lawrence told the council that she is concerned about the safety risks to people driving golf carts in the city, particularly on Woodland Road, where she lives.

She said she has lived there for 19 years and over that time has seen an increase in traffic and an increase in the speeds people drive on that road. She said buses, construction and utility vehicles and many residents use that road as a cut-through.

“I am concerned about the safety of a 25 mph golf cart driving on the narrow road that has poor points of visibility,” Lawrence said, pointing out that there are some hills that make it difficult to see oncoming traffic.

City Councilman Cleveland Stroud agreed that he, too, is concerned about the safety of golf carts on city streets.

“I’m not sure Conyers is ready for golf carts,” he said. “Our streets are not wide enough. I know people look at Peachtree City, but from the inception it was built for golf carts. I would love to see it in one way, but from a public safety perspective, I’m concerned it could result in disaster.”

Stroud said he is particularly worried about young drivers getting out of school each afternoon or impatient drivers who may not like having to drive behind a golf cart that can go only 25 mph.

Tom Harrison, who said he and his wife will soon be moving to Olde Town, spoke in favor of the golf cart ordinance.

“I think this will be a great community enhancement and will create a nice ambiance,” he said. “Driving on golf carts will make you slow down and see what’s gong on in town. In the long-run, I think this is a positive thing. … It will enhance.”

Harrison suggested that police install permanent rolling radar signs at high-traffic areas where the golf carts would be allowed.

“When police put up rolling radar, it seems to be a deterrent to speed,” he said.

Councilman Vince Evans agreed that safety is a concern, but said that he believes the fact the initial zone where golf carts would be allowed is limited will give people time to get used to motorized carts on the road.

“The point was to keep this tight initially to help people become aware and have less trepidation,” Evans said. “It could actually serve to slow traffic down in these areas.”

Councilmen Gerald Hinesley and Chris Bowen both expressed cautious optimism about the proposed ordinance, and said they want to keep the zone small at first and see how it goes.

Mary Blount, owner of Escentually Yours Gifts on Center Street, said she wanted a little more information about how the presence of golf carts would impact merchants in Olde Town.

“Will golf carts take away from customer parking?” she asked.

Mayor Randy Mills said that was a question he had not really considered and would like more information about that as well. Fountain said that golf carts would be treated as any other motor vehicle and would be permitted to park in a single spot, but said that may be a part in the proposed ordinance to be amended.

The City Council is expected to hold its second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting, scheduled for June 4.