Gas golf cart ban denied

Gas golf carts aren't an endangered species in Peachtree City after all.

On a unanimous vote Thursday night, the City Council unanimously voted to sack an ordinance amendment that would have banned gas golf carts from being operated on the city's paths within 10 years.

Although the vote was unanimous, both Mayor Don Haddix and Councilman Eric Imker indicated that they supported a ban of gas carts in 10 years, but it was Councilman Doug Sturbaum who changed his mind and effectively prevented the ordinance from being adopted as he joined the thinking of Councilwomen Vanessa Fleisch and Kim Learnard, both of whom opposed the ban.

Fleisch presented a variety of data that showed gas golf carts were not nearly as loud as say a lawn mower or a leaf blower. As for the issue of smell, Learnard said as a long distance runner who uses the paths all the time, she doesn't like the smell of gas carts, but she was willing to live with it.

Sturbaum said he understood the argument that some were making about the importance of allowing residents to make their own choice about the type of golf cart they purchase. He also said he had concerns about the enforceability of the ordinance as written.

Imker suggested tossing the ordinance aside and simply adding a sentence that enacts a full ban on gas carts as of Jan. 1, 2021, with the understanding that the city had ample time to warn residents particularly as they come to City Hall this year to get their new golf cart decal, a process that occurs every five years. But the idea failed to gain traction.

Spyglass
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All the blustering...and then

a unanimous vote against it. This is what I could consider a colossal waste of time/resources.

Once again, this Council fails to impress.

carbonunit52
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Ah, what the heck.

They all ended up doing the right thing. The subject was discussed, dissected, commented upon (copiously), and the correct conclusion was reached. Better to work out this council's procedures on a minor issue than a major one.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Vote Reality

Council was divided three ways on this one. Imker made a motion to simply put a ban in place with a ten year grace period. Not being realistic it failed 1-4. So none of the positions for banning were going to pass.

Councilman Sturbaum also stated issues siding with banning, which were not reflected in this article. The concerns on enforcement were his main issues.

Voting no on the denial blocked any new actions for a minimum of 6 months by all voting no. Voting yes gave any individual member of Council the right to bring back the issue at any time. So it was a political maneuver, not a true reflection of position. Check the video, I stated that before the vote.

Is it going to come back? Not unless someone changes their position.

My position remains the same.

Net effect is no ban.

jmatute
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Unrealistic Justification

Don, I remember when you brought this up last year, and you were strongly in favor of banning golf carts because of their pollution and noise. You have not changed your position. You and the council, if you are serious about noise and pollution, need to closely examine the problem of pollution and noise with regard to trash trucks. But you won't because you do not have the political will to do so. Compare the amount of gasoline and diesel fuel that the trash trucks pour out into the air of our city streets, and compare it to the amount of gasoline spent driving the 544 golf carts in the city. Also, there is no comparison between the decibel level of a truck and the cart. In both cases, the trash trucks win the pollution trophy. You won't do anything about gasoline powered lawn mowers and blowers, because they confine their use to owners' private property, while the gas golf carts are on city property. Are not the trash trucks operating on city streets, and are not those streets city property? So, how do you justify your position? Are you just making a grandstand position on a very small nuisance, when if you are really interested in the public welfare, why are you not taking steps to reduce the pollution of trash trucks. Cities in this country provide, or mandate only one trash hauler to operate in the city. Peachtree City lets as many operators in as want to get in. Reduce it to ONE truck on ONE street,and you will see a reduction in air pollution and damage to city street surfaces. You are wasting time trying to step on an ant while you allow the horses to run wild. All it takes is a realistic look at the issue, and the political will. Are you willing to do so? So far, it does not even look like it.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Juan

We are not going to single provider. You are using carts to try to reopen an issue that has been defeat more than once in the past.

The number of companies operating in PTC has declined pretty significantly due to competition. Some have upgraded their trucks and service offerings. Forget that happening under single provider. They cut their services and quality of service to minimum to be able to offer the lower price.

Single Provider is not ONE truck, it is TWO trucks, one for recycling and one for trash.

As well a single provider demands we force people to take their service who currently have no provider at all. We are not going there.

You are not relating all the facts here.

Yep, there is a mandate in one other city. Last I looked that provider had the most complaints filed to the BBB. In PTC that company probably has the smallest market share.

Get together with your neighbors, HOA or whatever and pick one provider. Solve the issue on your street yourself.

So, while your defending your gas cart and your right of choice you are wanting me to take away the right of choice for others in a different area and mandate some pay for what they currently do not pay for.

My point, Juan, is you want to pick your issue to place limits upon. Your position was strongly opposed by the citizens, but you want us to override them anyway because you want it.

There is no comparing the trash trucks to the gas cart issues.

Robert W. Morgan
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Careful Juan, the trash truck lobby is really powerful

The mafia. They need multiple trucks running around to hide the no-show jobs and the protection payments. They don't like to be criticized.

Mike King
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Vote Reality

Reality is the time wasted on the trivial. Was it not you that kept it alive?

The issues Doug stated certainly didn't materialize overnight, but your lack of leadership is becoming more and more obvious.

bowser
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PTC Council: Bring on the stink!

How the heck did we go from a proposed ban and a divided council to a unanimous vote that effectively issues a tacit endorsement of gas carts??

I can accept that it didn't gain a majority, but making the defeat unanimous gives a back of the hand to everyone who has legitimate concerns and saw a phased ban as a reasonable way to protect the value of our top recreational amenity.

Worse, it tells anyone who ever thought about selling or using gas carts that the coast is totally clear. Doesn't matter how much blue smoke billows out the back end or how much you degrade the experience for others, the city isn't going to do a damn thing.

There's already been a noticeable increase in the past few years. Ms. Learnard may find herself "living with" a lot more of them on her long runs.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Bowser

Often politics are about maximizing options.

If something major came up in a month that took away Councilman Imker and Sturbaum's concerns, we could bring it back for reconsideration immediately. Otherwise six months is July, in the heart of the Budget process, which is not a good time for an issue like this one.

The first half of the year is the best time for issues like this.

Like the motion Councilman Imker made for a ban with a ten year grace period. It took a second, which was given, but then it was defeated 1-4, meaning who gave the second voted against it.

The second was given as a courtesy. Not in support.

I believe the news article made it clear there is still support for a ban but a recognition was not going to happen then.

Other votes that night were 4-1, 1-4 and 3-2. It all depends on the issue.

In the main what will be remembered is it was defeated.

roundabout
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Mayor

Wouldn't it have been better if you had simply told those who complained to you about gas carts that you weren't in favor of eliminating them at this time?
You blew their vote anyway with a vote against it!

MajorMike
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Bowser

Thank you for your post, it gives the rest of us a better idea who at least one of the megawhiners is.

bowser
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Awesome comeback major

Your incisive, well reasoned commentary really put me in my place. But I'm afraid you’ll have to keep hunting for your megawhiners. Mine consists only of one post yesterday and one today. I never contacted a council person nor filled out any survey, though if I had I would have told them the ban was a good idea. If that makes me a whiner, guess I’ll just have to hang my head in shame and somehow find a way to live with it.

MajorMike
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Bowser

Megawhiner? Maybe so, maybe not. If not, you missed a damn good chance. One thing is certain though, your rights end where mine begin. If you had taken the time to read through all the information you would have found that; the ban would not have stood the test of law on several levels, and it just flat did not make good sense in light of other common appliannce and vehicle emissions.

Thanks for being "put in your place", hang your head in shame all you want.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mike

The ban was rejected, so be it. But our attorney said the argument about inspections was a false argument. There was no inspection requirement in the ordinance nor does looking at a cart to see if it gas or electric constitute an inspection.

It was not rejected on a legal basis because there was no legal basis to reject. Just want to make that point clear.

As for one's rights ending where another begins, that was a big argument for the banning side.

The issue that defeated it was the enforcement issue. Meaning police time required if one was cited. If that had not been an issue it would have passed.

It is defeated. Not coming back any time soon, I believe. But with the unanimous no vote it can be brought back for reconsideration at any time.

I do not plan on bringing it back.

MajorMike
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Mayor Haddix

The legality of the inspection issue was always a non starter. And, as a basis for making the statement that "It was not rejected on a legal basis because there was no legal basis to reject", it is erroneous and misleading. The real legal issue is "diminishment of value". After consulting three attorneys on the subject, two clients + my corporate / personal attorney, I think that it can be safely assumed that PTC would have been liable for lost value.

While individual monetary loss would probably not rise to superior court action in most cases, an action brought by a newly formed PTC Golf Cart association would, on at least two arguments, be successful. The second legal argument would be to draw parallels to State law. If one owns a 25 year old automobile or truck you are not required to abandon use of that vehicle. In fact, you no longer even have to have an emission inspection. Are not there some power boats still allowed on lake Peachtree? I wonder why?

Please be advised that Georgia is one of twenty two states that have retained "diminishment of value" laws and that these statutes apply primarily to all forms of motor driven vehicles including jet skis and scooters. These laws also apply to both real estate and other real property.

All you had to do was to grandfather all existing gas carts and you would probably have been successful in a phased in gas cart ban. Of course, this approach would NOT have appeased the megawhiners at all.

The leash law, while it did bring PTC into sync with the Fayette County leash law, was also not needed and again, probably the product of a few megawhiners.

All in all, I feel that you have done a fair job as Mayor. Please stop getting sidetracked by non-issues such as this and concentrate of fiscal problems and infrastructure. It will give what I refer to as the “anti-Brown clowns” less ammunition to criticize and push their own agenda.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Mike

The leash law and gas carts are areas we respectfully disagree on.

The leash law was indeed needed for safety reasons. But I don't want to relive that one either.

There are contradicting positions on how value would be affected. So that is a debate issue, not a fact. But having been denied it is now a moot issue.

As for what the legalities would be in ten years for a law suit, even our attorney said it would have to wait where all the laws stood at that time.

There is an expectation that before ten years expires, from an EPA official, that the new gas carts, at least of the current technology, will be outlawed by the Feds. Now that will diminish the value of current carts and you have no recourse against that reality.

So, phasing in a ban, in my mind, was the most protective of PTC residents. With the development of hybrid carts, which would be a third class of cart on the paths, that will impact gas carts as well. New battery tech is in fact a reality. That will impact gas as well.

Just saying this is not the clear cut issue you believe it is. One way or another change is coming that will be negative for the existing gas carts.

We now will wait and see. When whatever comes about happens in all honestly the PTC Council will be forced to adopt laws in compliance with the State and Feds.

Until then, we wait.

I am most assuredly focused on the fiscal issues. Behind the scenes I am working hard on trying to get the proper economic development environment in place.

Upping Property and H/M tax is not a solution. In fact it is a negative impact.

I did work with DAPC on the Braelinn and Glenloch Shopping Centers. A tenant from Westpark asked when we were going to get the same push for them?

I have been involved in getting more movie and television work in PTC. We almost lost one so I got involved and now it is here.

Now that some new Commissioners are in place we have talked on making the FCDA proactive versus reactive. Add in one of the older Commissioners and there is a majority.

DAPC needs funding and the Coordinator moved to being the DAPC Director. He would have much more ability there to get things done without the limitations he is under as a City Staffer by State Law.

He recognizes the key to getting retail filled is grow the market, not fight over market share. That means getting more disposable income into the City which means jobs.

We are working together already.

I am on the CVB this year. A lot to do there but we have the right structure and people in place to get it done.

What I am saying is just because you don't see it in the newspapers does not mean it is not happening. Far more goes on than most realize.

Some are never going to be happy unless we are building more empty buildings or firing city employees.

I heard a new term, for me, at a GMA class Saturday. C.A.V.E. - Citizens Against Vitually Everything. It applies to some.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be back in Atlanta at a District Meeting about the TSPLOST, a subject you know where I stand, but the State and unfortunately many in ARC are pushing to pass, and a Workshop on LOST negotiations this year, which I will have to do with the County Chair and the Mayors of Tyrone and Fayetteville.

So yes, a lot going on. We do have to handle many topics at one time. It is never this one, then that one, and so on down the line.

MajorMike
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Mayor Haddix

It is not my intent to beat this issue to death since it is, as you pointed out, a moot issue at this time. I must however respond to several of your points that attempt to forecast what is to come.

"from an EPA official, that the new gas carts, at least of the current technology, will be outlawed by the Feds" - is this the same woman that was so soundly ridiculed in these blogs on her first pronouncements. My God Mr. Mayor, the woman's predictions are prima fascia ludicrous. I work in a technology field and am affected by the fact that knowledge is an inverse logarithmic function, an upside down Christmas tree if you will. One technological breakthrough spawns ten more. While one may to great degree predict direction, the man or woman who says that they can predict state or status a decade away is nothing but another cheap con artist.

"As for what the legalities would be in ten years for a law suit, even our attorney said it would have to wait where all the laws stood at that time." - Uhhhhhh, are we actually paying this guy? We are NOT dealing with maybe this / maybe that laws ten years from now, we are dealing with current laws and statutes in the here and now. Any legal action challenging the now dormant ordinance would have been filed in a nine to twelve month period. An attempted waiting game is ALWAYS advantageous to no one but the lawyers. PS - ask for your money back.

I did not infer or mean to infer that you were not focused on the fiscal issues. Please note that I used the word concentrate. I am very much aware of the many areas where you work hard to protect and support our community and I am appreciative. I am even aware of some of your efforts, such as the grocery cart parking issue at the newly remodeled Braelin shopping complex, that did not show up in the news.

The leash law, as I pointed out, was not out of line - merely unnecessary and odious. Current state liability laws remain unaffected by that action.

Again I point out that, at least in appearance, the megawhiners are driving some of these issues, not necessity. I have personally become increasingly concerned that some of these megawhiners may be on staff.

mbest
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Yet you beat it to death anyway

Damn what a know it all!

crazy squirrel
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you do realize

..."know it all" describes 85% of the regular commenters on this site, right? personally, i don't find knowing it all to be much of a fault. i could find a lot more to get worked up over than being overly-informed.

Don Haddix
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Haddix: No Problem

The only thing I will kick in here is that a growing area for us is the intervention of State and Federal governments.

Many things you would say are not going to happen are already happening or being debated. Local governments are getting pounded.

We see it from both parties. As an Independent I see as many issues coming from the Republican side as I do the Democratic.

The system is broken. We are forced to do many things that are a waste of time and money. Many things we need to do we cannot because we are not allowed or they have taken control.

As any FYI, keep an eye on redistricting. Currently we are split between five reps, House and Senate. Even PTC is split in the House between two.

We should be under one Senate District and two House, as a House District reps 56,000 people.

Have some fun with the maps. I am confident PTC and Fayetteville will not be in the same district. Tyrone and PTC probably will.

Robert W. Morgan
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The Feds? Banning gas carts? Wow, that's news.

I guess that means they will ban gas golf carts in the entire country which covers every golf course and community that uses them. Now that would be a massive undertaking and one that would take a lot more than 10 years.

What about golf courses in the mountains like Big Canoe where an electric cart would not last 3 holes? What about maintenance vehicles and ATV's? Are they next to be banned? Go-karts? Bumper cars? Slippery slope. Next would be chain saws and leaf blowers. And lawn mowers - or maybe just riding lawn mowers. I think the farm/landscaper/golfer/retired person/weekend gardener lobbies would all say "No mas!"

Do you really think a Republican administration with majorities in the House (now) and Senate (2013) will let the EPA loose on something like that?

PTC Observer
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Mr. Morgan - Though

you didn't ask me, I will chime in on your last question.

The answer is yes, it just depends on how much money is involved in getting them re-elected.

The green movement is just another way to milk citizens of their money, without them protesting as much. Call it environmental propaganda for the masses.

IMHO

SPQR
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Major Mike

Your absolutely and totally 100% correct. If the Mayor would have negotiated and dropped the 10 year clause the ban would probably have passed. However, from a practical standpoint the gas carts are needed for rentals so how can you OK them for rentals and not private use. If passed the ban would probably have eventually been reversed. I also agree about the mayor doing a credible job and I for one appreciate his efforts. However, I am mystified at his inflexibility. Is Mayor Don a Bulldog type that just won't let something go or are we just placating the "mega whiners" knowing full well what the outcome will be?

bowser
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Still puzzled, Mr Mayor..

If you don't intend to bring it back up, why vote against the ban you proposed? (From your item above, it had to do with preserving the right to bring it back up w/i 6 mos...)

While I do appreciate your efforts on this matter, I'm baffled that you and Imker didn't vote your convictions even after Sturbaum flipped. At least a 3-2 vote would have sent a signal that this is an issue of concern to some, which it is. A 5-0 vote just hangs a "gas carts welcome" sign on the paths.

As for enforcement, that sounds like Sturbaum's smokescreen. The fact is, had this ban passed, people now using gas carts would start preparing to switch. Cart dealers would stop selling them over time. New residents would avoid them. The number would go down, not up. That was the point. Airtight enforcement was not, any more than it is with bans on lots of things.

You're right that it's over -- for now. If the number keeps increasing, the issue will come up again and fixes will be more painful then.

Evil Elvis
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Psst ... Hey, bowser

Psst ... here's a hint: You don't have to follow gas carts and their billowing blue emissions. You can slow down. You can stop. You can take control of the situation you find unpleasant and create your solution without controlling others.

Five per cent of the collective carts of PTC are gas. On that alone, it is hard to believe you have spent much of your life exposed to the emissions. Maybe one or two minutes of total time. And it is a situation you can completely control with your feet, literally, by taking it off the accelerator.

As the "megawhiners" have always had that option and the offending vehicles are only a small minority of the total number of carts, it simply does not rise to the occasion of requiring governmental control. Period.

Mike King
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Politics At It's Best

We know for sure that only two Councilmembers remained true to their convictions regarding this ban. The other three obviously felt the breeze blowing in another direction and voted accordingly.

All the Mayor's rhetoric, surveys, and complaints received certainly spoke volumnes on where his convictions stood. Mr Sturbaum and Imker finally seeing that it was not in their best interests to 'follow the leader' especially since they are up for reelection.

Seems to me that the only two on Council with a pair are the women.

SPQR
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common sense

I think somebody wrote a pamphlet about it once. Glad its still around.

NUK_1
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WOW...Sturbaum not a puppet!

I am frankly amazed. Good on him.

It's also surprising that humongous egomaniacs' Haddix and Imker decided to go ahead and side with the majority instead of "voting their principles" or whatever BS they usually churn. This might be a turning point for this Council and that would mean better days ahead for PTC.

Good work, PTC Council. I am usually all over them for being boneheads but they got this one right and it was unanimous even.

Robert W. Morgan
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Doug finally grew a pair

Thanks to him we now have freedom.

Dougie S for mayor next time or Kimmie