Go, Go, Golf Carts; Formal Usage of Carts Being Sought in OakLeaf Area from County Commission

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

For a year, 15-year-old twins Catherine and Rebecca Edwards had no complaints about their mode of transportation they use to tool around OakLeaf, the large insular community where they live.

Their parents bought them a golf cart as a safe, inexpensive way to get themselves where they need to go, such as Catherine's job at the community pool, baby-sitting gigs, or nearby friends' homes or stores.

Mom also used the cart, which goes about 17 mph at full power, to get to neighborhood Bunko games.

But in early August, a Clay County sheriff's deputy in an unmarked car stopped the twins on one of their golf cart outings, told them they were breaking the law driving the cart on the streets and gave them a warning.

"I just thought, 'Why?'" said Catherine.

"We had passed many, many cops before and he was the only person to pull us over," said Rebecca.

The incident prompted the twins' mother, Lynda Edwards, to mount a campaign asking the Clay County Commission to formally allow golf cart use on certain roads in OakLeaf, as is currently the case in Eagle Harbor.

At the urging of Commissioner Rob Bradley, who chairs the commission's Policy, Rules and Procedures Committee, she is first taking her case to neighborhood leaders. Bradley asked for a recommendation and input from the Double Branch Community Development District board of supervisors, which oversees maintenance and operation of the OakLeaf Village area east of Branan Field Road.

"It is important to me that the impacted community is behind this effort," he said, in an e-mail to Edwards.

The growing use of golf carts for transportation beyond golf courses may lead to more such road-legal requests for the County Commission. Golf carts, and larger, speedier versions called neighborhood electric vehicles, have become popular in golf course communities, resort areas, retirement communities and campgrounds.

Not everyone in OakLeaf supports giving them public road privileges.

"I hope you do not allow a small group of golf cart owners to petition to get golf carts on the road. I live in OakLeaf and most golf carts are driven by children under 16 who have no license and drive recklessly," said resident Rebekah Reese, in an e-mail to Bradley. "If someone is not old enough to drive a vehicle on the street, they should not be driving a golf cart, either. …