SIDNEY — After a series of somewhat contentious meetings, the Non-Traditional Vehicle Use Ad Hoc Committee wrapped up its study Thursday morning and came to a recommendation on the use of golf carts and other non-traditional vehicles (NTVs) for Sidney city roadways. A report on the committee’s recommendation will be presented to the Sidney City Council Monday evening.
Currently, low speed, non-traditional vehicles are not permitted to operate on Sidney city streets. Violators will begin to be cited by Sidney Police starting May 1.
The purpose of the committee’s final teleconference meeting was to complete a review of ordinance A-3020 on the use of NTVs on city streets, which City Council tabled at its March 22 meeting.
The committee met on Tuesday and again Thursday to reach and send a recommendation as quickly as possible to the Sidney City Council. Tuesday and Thursday’s meeting included quite a bit of discussion about some members’ dismay City Council did not grant Chairman Randy Rose’s request for a moratorium to delay the enforcement of non-traditional vehicle use on public roadways.
At the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, Rose expressed much frustration and said he felt council members had already made up their minds about a moratorium ahead of council’s Monday evening meeting. The Non-Traditional Vehicle Use Ad Hoc Committee is comprised of four members of the public and also three council members.
Rose further made it known he wanted Mayor Mike Barhorst to attend the committee’s next meeting to explain his thoughts and show he is not using the committee as a “scapegoat” on the issue.
Barhorst did not attend Thursday’s meeting, as he had prior mayoral obligations out of town. Milligan said, at one point in the meeting, if Barhorst had attended it would mean four council members would be present and would practically turn the committee meeting into a City Council meeting. She noted that could cause other rules to come into play for the committee meeting.
On Thursday, Rose said council members do not have a vested interest in the use golf car use on city streets, as he wasn’t aware any of them owned one. After listening during much of the meeting to the expressed frustration and back and forth on rules for golf carts to be allowed on streets, when Law Director Jeff Amick spoke, he reminded the members the purpose of the committee is to determine the use of all non-traditional vehicles on Sidney city streets, not for the use of golf carts for the Moose.
Finally, after reviewing the tabled ordinance Police Chief Will Balling first presented to council in July 2020, the committee agreed to remove or add various aspects of it. The map Balling presented outlining areas NTVs would be permitted on Sidney city streets was altered. NTVs are not permitted, by state law, on state Routes or county highways (or Interstate). Balling’s map included the prohibition of NTVs in busy industrial areas. The committee changed the map to include a portion of Russell Road, prohibited on the map, to include part of the road where residential homes are from the alley to Broadway Avenue. Amick asked why the map was altered there, and was told it was because three homeowners located there could not use golf carts if they wanted, to, one being Rose. Amick said he did not think it was good precedent to change the map for individual situations, because in the future, the city will not be able to deny other homeowner requests to alter the map to suit them, as well. He told committee members although it could be done, he would advising City Council against the change.
The ordinance was also changed to require vehicles to have two headlights and two taillights, instead of one in the front and back, and also a safety belt for each occupant.
Another change to the ordinance was that NTVs will not be required to have a licence plate. Removing the license plate requirement, which Balling was not in favor of, was a point of division between committee members. All three council members, Jenny VanMatre, Ed Hamaker and Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan, were in favor of all other changes, but not omitting a license plate from the ordinance to be presented to City Council. Rose pointed out that numerous other cities do not require license plates on golf carts and it is an unnecessary expense. He said a different sticker could be obtained to identify ownership of the cart.
Amick also added a clause exempting any city owned or city contractor NTVs from such regulations in the ordinance.
Rose will make a presentation at the Sidney City Council’s teleconference workshop session on the committee’s recommendation Monday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. City Clerk Kari Egbert reminded members, because the City Council meeting will be a workshop session, public comments/input will not be called for or permitted.
To join in to listen to the Monday evening City Council teleconference meeting, contact Egbert for call-in information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-498-8148.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.