Salem Lakes poised to allow golf carts on village streets

The Salem Lakes Village Board appears to be ready to approve allowing the use of golf carts on many village roads.

Only Trustee Dan Campion, citing safety concerns, expressed opposition to a draft ordinance at a committee of the whole meeting Monday. That appears to set the stage for the ordinance to be voted on next month.

Salem Lakes’ ordinance is modeled on one in effect in Paddock Lake since 2015. It requires an inspection that will be performed by a Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department deputy and an annual permit. Drivers of golf carts have to be at least 16 and have a valid driver’s license. Cart use will be legal on any village roads with a speed limit of 25 mph or lower. Cart use will not be legal on any county or state highway. Carts will be legal to be used from sunrise to sunset from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Campion revisited his concerns Monday about the safety of allowing golf carts on village roads, suggesting a requirement for safety belts be added.

“We should add it to our ordinance¬†,” Campion said “Its not going to be a burden.”

But the seatbelt requirement was rejected by other board members who cited concerns the equipment would not be factory installed and exposing the village possible liability for requiring it.

“They don’t manufacture them that way,” said Trustee Ron Gandt, who initiated the effort to pass the law.

Trustee Ted Kmiec said if golf cart manufacturers are not adding seat belts, then adding them after the fact might actually be creating a hazard.

“I would be hesitant to say we are going to overrule a manufacturer,” said Kmiec.

VIllage President Diann Tesar ended discussion saying that the ordinance will be up for approval in March as currently written without a seatbelt provision.

Village administrator Michael Murdock said as once the ordinance is formally passed it will be able to be enforced.

That might bring a reckoning for some of the people advocating for the legalization of golf cart use, said Trustee Dennis Faber. Those advocates will then have to comply with the law’s various equipment, permit, inspection and driver’s license requirements.

“Some of these people that have been so anxious for this to come to fruition¬†will find out the devil is in the details,” Faber said.

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