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January 10, 2008 Issue

Golf carts must be registered
Wrens updates zoning to allow residences on U.S. Highway 1
Wreck on Peachtree...

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Golf carts must be registered


Louisville City Council and mayor have approved a new law that will make the streets safer for drivers of any vehicle.

Beginning in January, owners of golf cart or motorized carts will have new regulations to follow. The city has passed an ordinance establishing rules and regulations with respect to the use of motorized carts on the public streets of the city of Louisville. This includes requirements for the registration of carts, licensing requirements and enforcement of regulations.

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The city defined a motorized cart as a motor vehicle having no fewer than three wheels, not operable at more than 20 mph and designed to carry not more than four people, including the driver, which includes golf carts and similar types of self-propelled vehicles.

These new rules came about after concerned citizens approached the city to ask for help, particularly concerning those who drive these carts at night.

“We have had several citizens come to us very concerned,” Louisville Mayor Rita Culvern said. “Particularly with golf carts being driven at night and someone almost running into them.”

Culvern said that even one of the council members had almost hit a golf cart at night because it did not have any lighting.

“You can turn a corner at night and a golf cart is right there,” Culvern said. “We began looking into this just knowing that we needed to have some kind of ordinance. We have a lot of people that use golf carts here in Louisville and this is not meant to penalize them, they are just safety rules.”

The rules include age and license requirements that require the driver to at least be 12 years of age or older. Different ages have different restrictions. In the ordinance, persons 16 years of age may operate a motorized cart unsupervised, with the exception that no one whose license has been suspended or revoked may operate a cart on the streets.

Children 12 to 14 years old may operate a cart on the streets with a parent, grandparent or guardian in the front seat. Children who are 15 may operate a cart on the streets with a parent, grandparent or guardian in the front seat or operate a cart with a licensed driver 18 years old or older in the front seat. Children 15 years old with a learner's permit may also drive alone.

But before the carts can be operated in the city, the cart must be registered with the City of Louisville.

In order to register, owners must bring documentation with a description of the cart to City Hall and complete an application for registration. With registration, the clerk will issue a decal to be applied to the rear of the cart in plain site.

The fee to register is $15. The decal cannot be transferred to another cart.

“Decals have been ordered and as soon as we receive them at City Hall, we will put an ad in the paper announcing it,” Mayor Culvern said. “Owners will then have 60 days to get the decals. The registration is a one time thing, once you have a decal it is good forever.”

The city recognized that the carts may be operated on any city street within the city that is not within the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Transportation, and may cross only streets or roads within the State Highway System at intersections or crossings designated for that purpose by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The designated crossings are at State Route 4 at Green Street, State Route 4 at Seventh Street, State Route 4 at 10th Street and State Route 24 at Walnut Street.

Mayor Culvern said that cart drivers cannot cross U.S. Highway 1. Drivers who come out of Wrens Quarters, which is not in the city limits, cannot cross the highway. Culvern said they can go to Fred’s or Ingles, but if they do somehow get over, they must have a decal.

“We don’t want people to go across U.S. 1,” Culvern said, citing safety concerns and state regulations.

Drivers are also asked to stay off Broad Street from the area of Queensborough National Bank and Trust to the Louisville Post Office, but Culvern said they can come up a side street, park and walk to the business they are trying to reach.

There are other regulations that restrict how and where the carts can be driven. The ordinance states that all drivers shall abide by all traffic regulations applicable to vehicular traffic when operating any motorized cart; motorized carts shall not be operated on sidewalks at any time; no motorized cart shall be permitted to operate on that section of Broad Street from Green Street on the southeast to Peachtree Street on the northwest; and motorized carts may be operated in the city during daylight hours only, unless such motorized carts are equipped with functional headlights and taillights.

Though the city does not require the golf carts to be insured, Mayor Culvern said insurance is available through most local insurance agencies at a reasonable price.

The ordinance states that most homeowner insurance policies do not cover carts off the homeowner’s property and this can be a significant liability to motorized cart owners involved in accidents off their property. People who suffer injuries or damage due to motorized cart accidents can pursue civil actions against the motorized cart owner.

The city strongly encourages motorized cart owners to check with their insurance agents and obtain motorized cart insurance to protect themselves and their assets.

The registered owner of the motorized cart will be charged if any violation of any provision of the ordinance occurs.

“People will be fined and they are fairly stiff fines,” Mayor Culvern said. “If a child is caught driving and not following the ordinance, the owner of the cart will be held responsible and have to pay the fine.”

For the first offense, a fine will be no less than $250; a second offense will cost no less than $500.

With the third offense, owners will face a harsher fine. If a third offense is committed within one year of conviction of a second offense, there will be a fine of not less than $1,000 and the registered owner’s motorized cart registration will be revoked. The registered owner or family member cannot register a motorized cart for use in the city for a period of two years following the third conviction.

Culvern said that the Louisville Police Department will enforce the new ordinance.



Wrens updates zoning to allow residences on U.S. Highway 1

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

For nearly two years Wrens officials have worked to update the city’s unified development code that sets rules for the city’s zoning and controls the use of properties throughout the city.

In a Dec. 20 called meeting the city held its second reading of the new ordinance, which officials feel will help promote growth and development in both the residential and commercial sectors.

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“This has been two good years in the making,” City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson said. “The last time the city updated it was in 1997. A lot of things change in that length of time.”

Johnson said members of the city’s planning and zoning board met weekly for nearly two years along with members of the city’s council to tailor a plan that will fit the specific needs of the city of Wrens.

“This isn’t someone else’s ordinance with our name on it,” she said. “A lot of people have worked very hard to make sure it was exactly what the board as well as the mayor and council wanted. It’s tailored specifically to what we want in Wrens.”

The city looked at trends in other areas as well as the immediate area when considering changes to the development code.

“We’re seeing more patio homes with smaller lots, homes with smaller front and back yards and therefore less lawn maintenance,” Johnson said. “We’re also seeing shopping centers that have various stores piled together on top of each other. Our previous code had no mechanism for that.”

Where the city’s previous zoning allowed citizens to build a residence on no less than a half acre, under the revisions, citizens in some zones can now build on as small as a quarter acre.

“The smaller lot sizes come with new rules regarding setbacks and everything,” Johnson said. “This is for people who want the same size home with less yard. I think these are some really good changes.”

She said they had worked to touch up the entire 187-page zoning ordinance to make it more user-friendly.

“There was a lot in there before that was not very clear,” Johnson said. “Everything should be a lot better defined now. And we wrestled back and forth on every point to ensure that these new policies will encourage and promote new businesses and homes to locate in Wrens.”

Citizens with property along U.S. Hwy. 1 should also know that after decades of this corridor being zoned almost entirely commercial, the new zoning will allow for residential conditional use permits.

“There are a number of homes along U.S. 1 that can now be rented and used for residences,” Johnson said. “The owners just need to fill out a conditional use application.”

Under the previous ordinance, if a residence on U.S. 1 in Wrens was not occupied for more than a year, then that structure was from then on restricted to commercial use only.

“It’s hard to tell people that they can’t use their property like they want to,” Johnson said. “But the former ordinance didn’t allow for it. I think changes like these are good.”

Johnson said the city benefited much from the input of former councilman and newly sworn in mayor, Lester Hadden.

“Lester has experience as a developer, a business owner and a citizen,” she said. “He had a lot to say about the developer’s point of view when it comes to subdivisions.”

The new ordinance requires all subdivisions be paved, but requires curbs and gutters only when environmental concerns require it.

“Sidewalks are not a necessity now,” she said. “We want good development and quality homes built for our citizens. I hope that’s what this ordinance does, ensures good development.”

Hadden agreed that the ordinance should make it easier for citizens to make improvements to their properties.

“The biggest thing I see in it is that now citizens with old, run down structures on a narrow piece of property may now be able to either go in and clean it up and sell it to someone who can use it, or they can fix up the old house themselves and possibly rent it where they couldn’t before. It could help us clean up a lot. We have a lot of these old houses and buildings.”

He sees opportunities for using the older structures on U.S. 1 for businesses as parking becomes more and more of an issue.

“People don’t want to walk anymore,” he said. “There have been some changes with set backs and signage. There’s a lot of smaller changes in there. They should all benefit the city.”

Johnson recommends that anyone who is anticipating making any improvements to there property contact the city hall or visit the McCollum Public Library where a copy of the complete new ordinance will be on file.

“Before, any time someone wanted a variance they could write a letter explaining what they wanted,” Johnson said. “Now, we have created an application form to make these more unified and complete.”

This should reduce the amount of time before a response, as the citizen will now know all of the necessary information he or she will need to include for the planning and zoning board or council to make their recommendation or decision.

“We don’t intend on letting this go another 10 years before we revisit it,” Johnson said. “The city will probably look at it again in another year and see what needs tweaking, what needs improvement."



Wreck on Peachtree...

A wreck between two vehicles on Peachtree Street in Louisville sent one man to the hospital on Thursday, Jan. 3, about 5:09 p.m. Thomas Cunningham, 87, of Louisville, was driving a 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis on West 10th Street and turned onto Peachtree Street, striking a 1997 Ford Explorer driven by William Fuller, 60, of Panama City, Fla., according to Louisville police officer Cpl. Jonathan Berry, who worked the scene.

Fuller was transported by ambulance to Jefferson Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and discharged later that same day, according to Jefferson County EMS Director Mike Bennett. Bennett said Cunningham did have complaints on the scene but said he would follow up with his local physician. Cunningham was charged with failure to yield, a misdemeanor, Berry said.

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