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Proposed golf cart ordinance meant to be a lagniappe for Poplarville residents

After three years of trying, the city of Poplarville might finally allow golf carts on residential streets.

Poplarville Mayor Rossie Creel wants to see a proposed golf cart ordinance in effect by the time the Blueberry Jubilee is held in the summer. The Poplarville Board of Aldermen is still weighing the merits of a golf cart ordinance. The two Board members at a Tuesday workshop on the proposed ordinance seem on board with moving it forward.

The legislature passed a new law this year that made it easier for the city to enact a golf cart ordinance. Previously the Board had to pass a unanimous resolution that a private legislation committee would then vote on. Poplarville passed the resolution twice in the past three years but it failed to pass the committee, said Creel.

With the new state law, the city just needs a majority vote from the Board of Aldermen to pass a golf cart ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would allow golf cart use on city streets with speed limits 25 mph or lower. Golf cart owners would have to register their vehicles to use them on city streets. The carts would need to have insurance, windshields, rearview and side view mirrors and brake lights, just like a regular car. Golf cart drivers breaking the ordinance or not following traffic laws would still be subject to traffic tickets.

Other low speed vehicles that followed the same guidelines would also be allowed under the ordinance. Creel said the city has an issue with four wheelers being driven at high speeds through town, and those would not be considered low speed vehicles under the ordinance.

One of the biggest safety concerns discussed Tuesday was where golf carts should be allowed to cross highways in the city. The ordinance originally proposed four crossings: Highway 11 and Larkin Smith, Highway 26 and South Allen, Highway 53 and Longleaf Lane/Pecan and Highway 53 and W. Dove Street/Maple Street. However, Alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire submitted comments, as she could not attend the meeting, with concerns about some of the crossing locations being high speed areas or not having a four way stop sign.

Alderman Russell Miller agreed with Wiltshire’s written comments that Highway 53 and Longleaf would be a high speed area for golf carts to cross and Police Chief Danny Collier pointed out there is a bluff there that limits visibility. Creel said he would cut it from the list in the proposed ordinance.

Wiltshire also wrote that she is concerned about Highway 26 and Allen Street as a crossing, as it is a high traffic area where people often speed. The speed limit is 35 mph at that location.

Board members at the meeting disagreed and thought it would be safe with bright signage. Creel said he added the intersection initially to allow golf cart access to the park.

Wiltshire was also concerned about the proposed crossing at Larkin Smith and Highway 11 for its lack of a four way stop. Workshop attendees discussed using West North Street and Highway 11 instead, as it is a four way stop and is well lit.

Workshop attendees also discussed the city putting up fluorescent golf cart crossing signs at the approved crossing locations. Brown suggested flashing signs, similar to school zone signs, but Creel noted those might be prohibitively expensive. Collier suggested starting with bright fluorescent signs and then potentially adding flashing lights later on.

Attendees also discussed limiting the hours of golf cart usage to avoid high traffic times during the day in the middle of the week.

Wiltshire suggested raising the one time registration fee above $50, but workshop attendees agreed it should be $50 so that it is more affordable, as the ordinance is meant to be a lagniappe for the citizens rather than a revenue generator.

The Board will discuss the ordinance again at their next regular meeting Tuesday. To be in effect by the Jubilee, it would need to be passed by early May, said Creel.