POWHATAN – People traveling in Powhatan County’s Village area will soon be sharing the road with drivers running the roads in golf carts.
During its meeting on Monday, June 24, four members of the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve an ordinance that allows for golf carts and utility vehicles to be operated on certain public roads in the Village area. Larry Nordvig, who represents District 2, was absent.
County administrator Ted Voorhees said that there are citizens who live in the Courthouse area and have an interest in operating these vehicles to get around. The arrangement can more commonly be seen at resorts, gated communities or golf clubs.
Per state law, using these vehicles on public roads is only allowed where the posted speed limit is 25 mph or less by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), he said. That means the ordinance would essentially be used by people along Old Buckingham Road from the roundabout in front of Scottville to where the 25 mph zone ends and in the side streets along the way.
In addition to Old Buckingham Road, the ordinance specifically mentions interior roads in Scottville (General Scott Boulevard, Bienvenue Place, Old Homestead Place, Grove Tavern Lane, St. John’s Village Way, William Dance Way, Maxey Store Place and Carter Trent Lane); side roads located in the Powhatan Village Area (Yates Lane, Marion Harland Lane, Tilman Road, Sigourney Street and Rosson Road), and Skaggs Road from Tilman Road to Old Buckingham Road.
County attorney Tom Lacheney pointed out that the speed limit must be posted at 25 mph lower on a road for the ordinance to apply to it.
While the four board members present at the meeting seemed generally in favor of the ordinance, there was also hesitation when discussion turned to the ordinance only applying to roads where there is a 25 mph speed limit.
In particular, there was concern that the 25 mph zone ends before Mann Road since the Powhatan County Public Library, Elizabeth Randolph Lewis YMCA, and Fighting Creek Park are all popular destinations. The posted speed limit past that point is 35 mph.
Bill Melton, District 4, said he had requested a speed study by VDOT to try to get the speed limit on Mann Road lowered but had been unsuccessful.
Melton initially suggested waiting to see if VDOT might be willing to work with the county about lowering the speed. He worried about residents driving carts farther than legally allowed.
However, Bret Schardein, assistant county administrator, said it might take the county passing this ordinance and getting the golf carts started on using the roads to have VDOT consider extending that area.
“In our discussions with VDOT, they said that in doing speed studies, one reason they wouldn’t recommend one now is they cannot in a speed study consider a potential future scenario. So they can’t consider that there might be golf carts there. If you approve this section now, then when they do a speed study, it will consider the fact that there are golf carts,” he said.
David Williams, District 1, asked how the county would communicate to that they are not allowed to drive golf carts past the 35 mph zone. Chairwoman Angie Cabell, District 3, said it would take communication, but the Sherriff Brad Nunnally was confident his office could handle it, and she would like to see traffic slowing down in the Village. Nobody spoke during the public hearing on the ordinance. The four board members present then passed it unanimously.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.