Wellsburg residents make case for golf carts (2024)

Wellsburg residents make case for golf carts (1)

GOLF CARTS SUGGESTED — On Tuesday, a group of citizens asked Wellsburg Council to consider allowing golf carts as a mode of transportation on some city streets. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — At Tuesday’s Wellsburg Council meeting, a group of citizens made a case for allowing golf carts to be used for transportation on some city streets.

Hilary Zurbuch, whose father lives in Wellsburg, said the carts would be welcomed by many senior citizens as an easier way to get around the city.

“We need a safer way for people to get around,” she said.

Bob Taylor agreed, saying they would make it easier for senior citizens to attend public events. He said golf carts he has rented in Myrtle Beach must have working head and tail lights and turning signals, among other safety features and create less pollution than automobiles.

He added newer models are very quiet.

Rick Starck, a former resident who spends summers in the city, said they are permitted in the Beaufort, South Carolina neighborhood where he now lives and have helped to attract new residents to that area.

Starck said those who operate the carts there must have a driver’s license and they may not be driven by juveniles. He said they reduce parking problems because they can be parked in grassy areas.

Paul Billiard noted he pitched the idea in 2021 while serving on council but it failed to receive support, which he attributed to shortsightedness by city officials.

He noted golf carts have been permitted in 12 West Virginia municipalities.

“This town needs to move forward as everyone else has done,” Billiard told council.

He challenged “anyone to look at my golf cart and see that it’s not safer than a motorcycle or quad,” the latter referring to all-terrain vehicles that are prohibited on lined streets but have been seen on them.

Fourth Ward Councilman Charlie Harris told the guests he’s not opposed to the golf carts being driven in designated areas if they are safe and their drivers are required to be licensed and insured.

But he said he doesn’t believe the city should be responsible for registering the vehicles. He encouraged the residents to approach their legislators about establishing a statewide system for registering and inspecting them.

“If the state says that’s a legal vehicle, I don’t have a problem with that,” said Harris.

City Solicitor Ryan Weld was asked prior to the meeting to draw up a proposed golf cart ordinance.

Among its terms was prohibited use on state Route 2 and an annual $50 registration fee.

City Police Chief Mike Allman was asked if he’s prepared to ensure golf carts driven by residents are registered and insured.

He replied, “If that’s the way the ordinance reads, I have to do it.”

Mayor Dan Dudley said he’s concerned about the carts being driven at night, noting a near collision he experienced, and stressed they should have proper lighting and be regularly inspected.

He said he would support them “as long as they have all the bells and whistles on them.”

The ordinance is expected to be considered at a future committee meeting before undergoing two readings by council.

In other business, City Manager Steve Maguschak advised bids will be opened at 2:15 p.m. Friday for the second round of demolitions of dilapidated structures to be funded through a pilot program of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

About a dozen homes were acquired and razed in the first round, which was funded by a $290,000 grant secured by City Solicitor Ryan Weld, with about $150,000 remaining.

Council had agreed to sell the remaining vacant lots through a public auction.

Weld said that may be conducted in person or online and he’s compiled a list of city-owned properties, including some the city acquired previously.

He suggested seeking comparisons with similar properties to determine a minimum bid.

In related business, he suggested council consider hiring an intern from the law firm where he’s employed to pursue action against the owners of other dilapidated structures.

Weld said his salary covers about 6.5 hours per month, which includes attendance at council and other board meetings, and said while he often exceeds that, some tasks involved with the dilapidated structures are particularly time-consuming.

During the discussion, Harris raised the frequent complaint among council members about Weld’s absence at recent council meetings.

He acknowledged Weld is absent from January through March because he’s representing the city and others as a state Senator and said he believes Weld would be more effective in that capacity if he were focused solely on serving in the state legislature.

“I believe we need another attorney, one who can be here full-time,” said Harris, who added, “Not having a city attorney present at all of the meetings has had an impact.”

Weld said while he is away in Charleston, he has answered calls from city officials and has continued to do work for Wellsburg while there.

He added he’s also arranged for a colleague from his law firm to attend the meetings in his place.

“I live in this city, I love this city, and that’s why I sit here with you,” said Weld.

Harris moved for council to advertise for another attorney, but his motion was supported by only 4th Ward Councilman Fred Marino.

Voting against the move were 1st Ward Councilman Jack Kins, 2nd Ward Councilmen Scott Caldwell and Geno Capp and 3rd Ward Councilmen Randy Fletcher and Tom Gaudio.

First Ward Councilman Jerry Nichols didn’t attend the meeting.

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Wellsburg residents make case for golf carts (2024)
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