Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

August 22, 2013

Teutopolis board moves forward with golf cart ordinance

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — A split Teutopolis Village Board voted Wednesday to proceed toward an ordinance that would allow golf cart usage within the village.

After a lengthy presentation by an insurance agent and a number of comments from those who want to be able to legally drive the carts in town, the board voted 4-3 to give golf cart legalization further consideration.

Village President Greg Hess said after the meeting that the process has three phases.

“First, we have to determine the content of the ordinance,” Hess said.

From there, Village Attorney Bill Austin will draft an ordinance. The third phase, of course, would be the final vote.

Hess said the process could take several weeks, or even months.

The tiny village hall was again packed with golf cart proponents. But Wednesday, insurance agent Jeff Weis did much of the talking.

Weis stressed that insurance representatives did not set public policy.

“If you want to go ahead with this, fine,” he said. “But we want to make sure the ordinance complies with National Highway Safety Administration guidelines, as well as state law.”

Weis warned that federal requirements for slow-moving vehicles are “extensive.”

“The state treats them as slow-moving vehicles.”

Weis said his main concern is that the ordinance leaves no wiggle room for village liability.

“We want to make sure they get it right the first time,” he said. “I want the village to put together a comprehensive plan that does not leave the village liable.”

Golf cart proponents continue to maintain that legalization would be a plus for the village.

“Change is difficult,” said Billie Jansen. “But we think it has great benefit to help the town in the long run.”

Proponent Judy Pals said the issuance of registration stickers would enrich village coffers.

However, Trustee Roger Henderson pointed out that Altamont has a sticker fee of $35, but only four registered carts. Moreover, Henderson said, anyone with a driveway on U.S. 40 could not legally leave their property without going through their neighbor’s yard.

It has already been determined that golf carts won’t be legal on U.S. 40 (Main Street). Furthermore, the only legal crossing from the north to south side of town will be the four-way stop intersection at Main and Pearl.

In a straw vote taken Wednesday, Henderson was joined by Kenneth Esker and John Mette against proceeding any further, while Dan Zerrusen, Greg Oseland and Dave Tegeler voted to proceed. Hess broke the tie.

Mette did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, but Hess said he was able to vote in absentia because no final action was being taken.

In other action Wednesday, the board agreed to refurbish the storm sewer on Vine Street near the Knights of Columbus Hall.

“What we have now doesn’t work,” said Knights of Columbus representative Nick Wente.

The area east and south of the hall has long been plagued by poor drainage.

The village has agreed to take care of the area east of the hall, while the Knights will fund an extension to the south because it is on private property.

Knights representative Gary Vahling said it was important the board acted Wednesday.

“We’d like to put up a dance floor next month,” Vahling said.

Village Foreman Carl Pals said the work should be done within the next month.