By Joel Hall
In a 5-1 vote on Monday, the Jonesboro City Council approved an ordinance making it legal for residents to drive "street legal" golf carts within the city proper.
Under the ordinance, Jonesboro residents with a valid driver's license and a golf cart that is registered with the city, may drive a golf cart on certain streets where the speed limit does not exceed 35 miles per hour.
The ordinance allows golf-cart travel on several side streets in downtown Jonesboro, as well as the downtown section of Main Street, between College Street and Fifth Avenue. Driving is also allowed on North Main Street, from the city limit to 223 North Main St.
Driving will be prohibited on busier streets, such as Fayetteville Road between Tara Boulevard and North Avenue; all of Tara Boulevard; Lake Jodeco Road; Turner Road, and Stockbridge Road.
Councilman Billy Powell drafted the ordinance, which was approved by all on the council, with the exception of Bobby Wiggins. Powell believes it will give residents, who live and work in the city, a "green" alternative.
"Right now, we have $4 gas, so it's good for people to have something else," said Powell. "There's people who work in the city who could actually drive their cart to work."
Wiggins said he was opposed to the ordinance because of safety concerns. "I still say our streets will be unsafe for golf carts," said Wiggins. "I don't think our streets or traffic are ready for it, and we have a lot of aggressive drivers. Somebody will get hurt."
The ordinance was met with applause upon its approval. Some attendees said the ordinance will give residents a cheaper alternative to driving cars, and make the community more attractive.
"For somebody who lives here, works here, eats here, banks here ... I could be saving thousands on fuel," said Ed Wise, who works at Pope Dickson & Son Funeral Home in Jonesboro.
"It would, for me, give a little more of an incentive to live downtown," said Beverly Lister, a nurse. She said the ordinance may increase property values and cause other cities in the area to follow suit.
Gas-powered carts must pass emission standards, and all carts must have working break lights and turn signals. Carts are not required to be equipped with head lights, but must have them in order to be operated after daylight hours.