While Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine told city attorney Patricia Petruff he’s not considering the addition of any more streets to the current list of roads that golf carts can drive on, Commissioner David Zaccagnino wants to discuss the problem with the chief.
The “problem,” said Zaccagnino, is that none of the streets that allow operation of unlicensed golf carts are south of the Gulf and East Bay drives intersection. That prohibits all unlicensed golf cart owners on the south side of the city from using those vehicles to drive to Publix and other nearby businesses for shopping.
City attorney Patricia Petruff reported to commissioners at their Sept. 13 meeting that all the streets that permit the operation of unlicensed golf carts are in the northern part of the city. Romine “does not recommend adding any more streets,” she said, until the Florida Department of Transportation issues a permit for a Gulf Drive crossing at the traffic light by Mike Norman Realty.
Although Petruff said Romine is confident the permit will be issued, Zaccagnino, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger and Commissioner Pat Morton said they’ve been hearing that from the DOT for years and still no permit has been issued.
Bohnenberger said when the commission in 2003 approved the ordinance allowing unlicensed golf carts to operate on some city streets, it intentionally left out any streets in south Holmes Beach.
Some people wanted streets for golf carts on both sides of Gulf Drive to get to Publix or a convenience store, but that would mean crossing Gulf Drive, the mayor said.
Crossing Gulf Drive — State Road 789 — in an unlicensed golf cart would subject the driver to a potential traffic ticket, Bohnenberger said.
Romine, however, said previously that when officers detect an unlicensed golf cart using a street not on the permitted list, they use it as an “educational opportunity” to inform drivers of what’s allowed under the ordinance.
Zaccagnino, however, wants discussion with Romine to see if there is any possibility of adding some streets in south Holmes Beach to the list. Romine was not at the meeting.
Drivers of unlicensed golf carts must be at least 14 years old. Similar electric vehicles must have tags, lights, be insured and operated only by someone with a valid driver’s license
These low-speed vehicles are only permitted on streets with a 25-mph speed limit or lower, Petruff said, and that excludes Manatee Avenue.
Even if a crossing is built on Gulf Drive at East Bay Drive, there is still no access to it for an unlicensed golf cart in south Holmes Beach east of Gulf Drive, Petruff observed.
She said an access road could possibly be built through a small area of Grassy Point behind Mike Norman Realty that connects with Avenue C, but that will cost money.
Getting golf carts across Gulf Drive south of East Bay Drive has “been a problem for years,” said Commissioner Pat Morton.
Zaccagnino and Morton asked for Romine to attend a commission work session to discuss the matter and Petruff pointed out that the city charter designates the chief of police as the city’s traffic engineer.
Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said she would ask the chief to attend an upcoming work session to discuss possibilities while awaiting the DOT permit.
In other business, commissioners approved the final reading of an ordinance to amend the comprehensive plan to add Kingfish Boat Ramp as a park on the future land-use map and designating the land-use as recreation open space.
Also approved was the final reading of an ordinance rezoning Grassy Point from single-family residential and medium-density residential to the conservation zoning district. The ordinance added public rest rooms and roads as permitted uses.
Holmes Beach allows unlicensed golf carts to operate on a number of city streets, all north of Manatee Avenue. Those streets are:
• All streets in Key Royale.
• Marina Drive north of Key Royale Drive.
• All streets north of Key Royale Drive and east of Palm Drive.
• Seventy-first Street from the bay to the Gulf of Mexico.
• Holmes Boulevard from Gulf Drive to 75th Street.
• Seventy-fifth Street from the bay to the Gulf.
• Seventy-seventh Street from the bay to the Gulf.
• White Avenue from Gulf Drive to Aqua Lane.
• Flotilla Drive.
• Sixty-second Street.