Golf carts, ATVs will be allowed on Wauconda streets -- with conditions
A new ordinance in Wauconda will allow golf carts and other "non-highway" vehicles to be driven on village streets, subject to an inspection and other conditions.
Stickers were being ordered Wednesday and other processes finalized in advance of rules intended to improve safety and give police authority to regulate and enforce the use of golf carts, all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles.
Over the past several years the village has received "an abundance of complaints" about those types of vehicles being driven recklessly and creating a nuisance, according to police Chief David Wermes.
Illinois law generally says those types of vehicles can't be driven on streets, roads or highways. But individual municipalities can decide when and where golf carts and the like can be used and Wermes began researching the topic.
Draft regulations were presented and discussed by the village board at informal committee of the whole sessions in December and February and modifications made during the process.
Initially, the proposed rules applied only to golf carts used solely for recreational use to and from Bangs Lake beaches and restricted to areas nearby.
ATVs and UTVs used to haul down ice fishing shanties were added, the allowable area was made villagewide, not just beaches, and other tweaks made during the process, Wermes said. About 30 residents attended the sessions.
"This is how I believe things should work when it comes to government," he said. "We took their concerns and suggestions and incorporated them into the ordinance.
The six-page ordinance outlines rules and requirements involving the operation of the vehicles as well as safety, registration, inspection, designated parking areas, violations and other aspects.
Applicants must sign a waiver releasing any claim against the village, according to the ordinance.
"We don't share in any of the responsibility of what they're doing," Wermes said.
Among the requirements are that operators must be 18 or older and have a driver's license and insurance. To drive on local streets, golf carts, ATVs and UTVs must be registered with the village and pass an inspection for required equipment.
Golf carts, for example, must have a rearview mirror, headlight that can be seen from 500 feet, brake lights and turn signals.
Allowable hours are sunrise to 10 p.m., but non-highway vehicles can't be operated in bad weather or when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions.
The initial nonrefundable registration fee is $75 and is effective for one year from May 1 to April 30. The subsequent annual renewal and reinspection fee is $50. The registration can be revoked and a fine of up to $750 imposed for violations, according to the ordinance.
Other rules: vehicles can only transport as many passengers as seats available and are not permitted on state highways or Route 12. Route 176 and Bonner Road can be crossed at a 90-degree angle at six designated points. Parking is not allowed on downtown streets but only in the municipal lot at West Mill Street and South Maple Avenue.
Wermes expected the department to be busier as a result of the new rule but doesn't initially plan on having special patrols for enforcement.
Other communities that allow golf carts and similar vehicles include Island Lake, Huntley, Lakewood, Wonder Lake and Fox River Grove, Wermes said.