MARSHALL - Marshall city ordinances about special vehicle permits need to be clarified, members of the City Council Legislative and Ordinance Committee said Monday.
However, committee members found they couldn't agree on anything else to do with a Marshall resident's request to drive a golf cart on city streets. After about an hour of discussion and one failed motion on the matter, the committee adjourned the meeting without making recommendations for city staff and the Marshall City Council. However, the issue may still go before the council at a future meeting.
Monday's committee meeting was held because of an application for a special vehicle permit by Karen Meister. Meister said she would like to be able to drive a golf cart on city streets for short trips within Marshall, but city officials said past practice has been only to allow carts to travel between the Marshall golf course and a residence.
Marshall Public Safety Director Rob Yant said special vehicle permits have only been granted in Marshall for two purposes. One was to drive a golf cart to the golf course. The second was for golf carts, and later Gator utility vehicles, to pull trailers for the "Hal's Pals" program, which gives local nursing home residents rides.
Yant said the restrictions were for safety reasons.
"Golf carts are probably the least desirable to have on the roads in terms of safety," he said, because they're slower and less visible than surrounding traffic.
Steven Meister said golf carts are allowed on streets in several other cities, including Rochester. Requiring mirrors, signal lights and slow-moving vehicle signs on carts would improve their safety, he said.
Committee member Charlie Sanow said he was concerned that approving a permit for the Meisters would set a dangerous precedent for the city. Sanow said he's already received several calls from other residents interested in driving ATVs, golf carts or mini trucks on city streets.
The three committee members were divided on the permit issue.
Mike Boedigheimer was in favor of keeping ordinances as they were, partly for the sake of the Hal's Pals program. Sanow thought special permits should be restricted to golf carts only, while Jennie Hulsizer said she thought all special vehicle permits should be restricted.
"We need to go all or nothing," she said.
Other issues with the city's vehicle permit ordinances were also discussed. The Meisters had pointed out the ordinances required them to have insurance, a vehicle identification number and a photograph of the golf cart in order to apply for a special permit in the first place.
Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the Meisters had also paid a vehicle permit fee before a permit could be granted. Martig said the fee should be paid upon approval of the permit instead, and said the Meisters' fee should be refunded if the permit is not approved.
A motion by Sanow to change the special vehicle permit requirements died for lack of a second. The meeting was adjourned without reaching a recommended course of action for the city council. However, Martig said he would work with the Marshall city attorney to draft some possible amendments to the vehicle permit ordinances.
The amendments would then go before the council for discussion, Martig said.