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Concerns About Golf Carts Voiced at AMSCD Meeting

A discussion on proposed golf cart regulations Tuesday swelled attendance at the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District's (AMSCD) monthly meeting -- normally a small handful -- to several dozen people.

The district board has been wrestling with the matter of golf cart regulation for almost the entire time the town of Ave Maria has been in existence. It's complcated because of overlapping jurisdictions. The AMSCD and individual homeowner associations own the roads, the State of Florida sets some minimum standards for golf cart regulation, Collier County has the authority to codify regulations and the Collier County Sheriff's Office has enforcement responsibility -- a responsibility Sheriff's deputies can only exercise with clear directives in place.

To navigate this jurisdictional maze, the AMSCD hired Naples consultant Norman Trebilcock to analyze traffic and golf cart usage in Ave Maria, discuss possible regulatory ordinances with Collier County Transportation officials, and recommend regulations.

Mr. Trebilcock spoke to the AMSCD meeting Tuesday, going over recommendations he had made in his report, all of which he said were favored by county transportation staff. They include: Requiring drivers of golf carts to hold a valid driver's license or learner's permit, restricting use on parts of major roadways such as Ave Maria Blvd., and setting minimum standards for golf cart equipment.

Most of the concerns about the proposed regulations that were voiced at the meeting involved the requirement for operators to have a state driver's license or learner's permit. This would effectively raise the minimum age of operation from a state-mandated 14 to 15. Several residents said this would be a hardship on families who depend on children as young as 14 to drive younger siblings to school and other activities in town.

Other residents, however, spoke in favor of tighter age regulation saying that younger children often operate carts unsafely and don't know the rules of the road. Immokalee Fire District Leo Rodgers said he has seen instances where emergency vehicles, with lights and siren on, were obstructed because a young driver of a golf cart did not know that it was required to pull over to let emergency vehicles pass.

The AMSCD took no action at the meeting and Mr. Trebilcock said he would consider all the views expressed and prepare draft regulations to consider at the next district meeting Nov. 3. Once the district approves proposed regulations, they would be presented to Collier County commissioners for approval as a local ordinance affecting all of Ave Maria.
 

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