Allegan considers allowing golf carts on city streets

Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

A discussion of allowing golf carts on local roads in the City of Allegan has begun.

State law allows cities of less than 30,000 residents the ability to approve golf carts on local streets where speed limits do not exceed 30 mph. State trunk lines such as M-222, M-40 and M-89 would be off limits, except to cross.

City manager Joel Dye said he had been approached by residents who have seen the city’s promotions manager tooling around town on a golf cart and inquired about the public being allowed to drive golf carts in the city as well. Superior Carts also raised the question last year and Jim and Michelle Liggett were in the audience requesting a golf cart route from Allegan Events on River Street to their zipline on the riverfront.

The proposed golf tram route from the indoor adventure park at the former Rockwell building was suggested to cross the trestle bridge at Jaycee Park and to bring tourists downtown to the riverfront zipline, which they own and invested in.

“Our real grand strategy in building this big attraction  is to bring several thousand people each weekend to downtown,” said Jim Liggett. “We want to bring them to an ice cream shop and shops downtown—drop them off and let them linger on to the next thing.”

Michelle Liggett it would help with the parking situation and would give exposure to other businesses downtown with multiple stops.

 Council member Charles Tripp said trestle bridge has posts installed at both ends to keep motorized vehicles out for the safety of fishermen and pedestrians on the bridge.

“Taking those posts out would open it up to anybody,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with golf carts on streets, but not on the bridge.”

Mayor pro-tem Rachel McKenzie said opening the streets to golf carts would also bring people from the fairgrounds downtown. She asked if the city would also allow snowmobiles. Dye said snowmobiles are a separate issue and would tear up asphalt roads.

“If we’re going to open this up to the whole city, I’d like this to be thought through,” said council member Patrick Morgan.

Nancy Ingalsbee said the other side of this issue was enforcement and Mayor Stacy Stotmeister suggested creating specific routes for carts.

According to MCL 257.657a golf carts could only operate in daylight hours. Only licensed drivers above the age of 16 would be allowed to operate them. The city could require operators to register carts but cannot charge a fee. Carts cannot be operated on sidewalks and operators must comply with signal requirements similar to that of a bicycle.

For further options to consider, the city manager will present council with sample city ordinances, including South Haven’s golf cart resolution.


Mill district planning

Discussions began to take shape for site specific planning in the Mill District, with discussions to continue on the July 9 agenda of whether to move forward with a plan that includes envisioning open houses and developing a master plan.


City property sale

Also concerning Allegan Event on River Street, the council set a public hearing for July 9 to vacate an unused Ammerman Street alley way on the former Rockwell property and a public hearing July 23 for sale of the driveway from River Street going into Allegan Event.

Dye said the city purchased the driveway for Rockwell Corp. and it could be argued that by adverse possession the driveway already goes with the Allegan Event property; however, the city and Allegan Events wanted to clean up the title to the property by making it official. The purchase will cost $10. The city will keep an easement on the property for a gravity main to the wastewater treatment plant.


Building authority appointed

A Building Authority Lease and notice of intent to borrow $2 million for various building improvements was approved. On June 11, the city created the Building Authority to issue bonds for planned improvements for the new city hall, the Regent Theatre, Griswold Auditorium and create new riverfront public restrooms, while freeing up the ability to issue Capital Improvement Bonds to finance water and sewer improvements. With the sewer and water bonds selling at a lower rate, it will save approximately $95,000 to $105,000 over the course of the bonds.

Three members were appointed June 25 to the Building Authority, which cannot be made up of any council members. They are finance director Tracy Stull who will serve a 3-year term; city clerk Danielle Bird who will served a 2-year term and city manager Joel Dye who will serve a 1-year term.

Stull said when funds are needed for improvements, the city will go to the building authority who will lease to the city for the term of the loan.


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