Can Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point Become a Golf Cart Community?

Can Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point Become a Golf Cart Community?

This research has been submitted to the Glebe Harbor – Cabin Point Association Inc., Board of Directors, with no distribution or recognition restrictions/requirements applied, nor attached to this research.

UPDATE: 12-22-2018. On December 7th, 2018, my report/research was posted on the official gh-cp.org website. It has now been removed from their website. You can download my 7 page report/research by clicking here.

Can Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point Become a Golf Cart Community? This question has come up a few times in the past year. A request has been placed on the Glebe Harbor-Cabin Point Official Website looking for members to research this idea.

So, can we become a golf cart community? The short answer is probably not, unless we as a Community, are willing to spend our own money and time. Neither Westmoreland County or the GH-CP Sanitary District have the authorization to help fund this project in any way.  The long answer is strictly my opinion and I will use the Virginia Law that regulates the use of golf carts on Virginia roads, to explain my train of thought. You also need to understand that I am not an Attorney and this research is strictly my opinion.

I will do my best to break down the Virginia Law that regulates the use of golf carts on public highways and how it may apply to our communities. I will place the law section in italics and my opinion of that section, in regular text. Please keep in mind that if we could become a golf cart community with no other added expense to myself or my neighbors, I would support this project 100%

Virginia Code§ 46.2-916.3. Limitations on golf cart and utility vehicle operations on designated public highways.

  1. Golf cart and utility vehicle operations on designated public highways shall be in accordance with the following limitations:

The first thing to research is what does Virginia consider a “public highway”? According to Virginia Code § 46.2-100. Definitions, “Highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth, including the streets and alleys, and, for law-enforcement purposes, (i) the entire width between the boundary lines of all private roads or private streets that have been specifically designated “highways” by an ordinance adopted by the governing body of the county, city, or town in which such private roads or streets are located and (ii) the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place used for purposes of vehicular travel on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the United States government and located in the Commonwealth”.

According to this definition, every road in Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point is considered a “Public Highway” and therefore we would need to conform to the following restrictions/requirements, as they are listed below. The fact that some of our roads are not “State Maintained”, has no bearing on the fact that they are still considered “Public Highways”.

  1. A golf cart or utility vehicle may be operated only on designated public highways where the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less. However, a golf cart or utility vehicle may cross a highway at an intersection controlled by a traffic light if the highway has a posted speed limit of no more than 35 miles per hour and in the Town of Colonial Beach may cross any highway at an intersection marked as a golf cart crossing by signs posted by the Virginia Department of Transportation;

According to this section, we would have to change our speed limits from 40/35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, on any road that is now posted with a 40/35 mile per hour speed limit. In order to do this, the Virginia Department of Transportation, (VDOT), would need to do a Traffic Survey on every street within GH and CP. The last survey VDOT did for Virginia State as a whole, was done in 2017. It is 680 pages long and took 7 years to complete. (http://www.virginiadot.org/info/resources/Traffic_2017/AADT_PrimaryInterstate_2017.pdf).

The Traffic Survey VDOT did for Westmoreland County, is 43 pages long and took 4 years to complete. We are not allowed to use their data from this report, as it covered major roads as well as secondary roads only. It does not contain any data for our Communities. (http://www.virginiadot.org/info/resources/Traffic_2017/AADT_096_Westmoreland_2017.pdf).

  1. In towns with a population of 2,000 or less, a golf cart or utility vehicle may cross a highway at an intersection conspicuously marked as a golf cart crossing by signs posted by the Virginia Department of Transportation if the highway has a posted speed limit of no more than 35 miles per hour and the crossing is required as the only means to provide golf cart access from one part of the town to another part of the town;

This section does not really pertain to our issue as one might think. Since Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point are not considered “towns” but rather residential neighborhoods or residential sub divisions, this section would not apply to our situation.

  1. No person shall operate any golf cart or utility vehicle on any public highway unless he has in his possession a valid driver’s license;

Just as you need a valid driver license to operate any vehicle in Virginia, you would also need these same requirements to operate a golf cart. Every law that applies to operating a motor vehicle, would also apply to operating a golf cart, including receiving a DUI.

  1. Every golf cart or utility vehicle, whenever operated on a public highway, shall display a slow-moving vehicle emblem in conformity with § 46.2-1081; and

Virginia Code § 46.2-1081 states that “any slow-moving vehicle must display a triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem on the rear of the vehicle when traveling on a public highway at any time of the day or night”.

This section has nothing to do with the fact of becoming a golf cart community, only that this emblem must be displayed on slow moving vehicles, such as a golf carts when used on public roads.

  1. Golf carts and utility vehicles shall be operated upon the public highways only between sunrise and sunset, unless equipped with such lights as are required in Article 3 (§ 46.2-1010 et seq.) of Chapter 10 for different classes of vehicles.

This requirement again, has nothing to do with becoming a golf cart community. It simply states that if you do not have the required lights needed to operate your golf cart at night, then you are subject to receiving a ticket for doing so. This is no different then driving your car at night with no lights or having a bulb burned out.  This is what Virginia Code 46.2-1010 states concerning operating a golf cart or any vehicle at night.

Every vehicle driven or moved on a highway within the Commonwealth shall at all times be equipped with such lights as are required in this chapter for different classes of vehicles. The lights shall at all times be capable of being lighted, except as otherwise provided. This section shall not apply, however, to any vehicle for transporting well-drilling machinery licensed under § 46.2-700 when operated only between the hours of sunrise and sunset”.

  1. The limitations of subdivision A 1 shall not apply to golf carts and utility vehicles being operated as follows:

This section simply states what DOES NOT apply under Virginia Code § 46.2-916.3 and is exempt. As a community, none of these exemptions would apply to our situation.

  1. To cross a highway from one portion of a golf course to another portion thereof or to another adjacent golf course or to travel between a person’s home and golf course if (i) the trip would not be longer than one-half mile in either direction and (ii) the speed limit on the road is no more than 35 miles per hour;

Since we are not a golf course community, this does not apply to our communities and has nothing to do with becoming a golf cart community.

  1. To the extent necessary for local government employees, operating only upon highways located within the locality, to fulfill a governmental purpose, provided the golf cart or utility vehicle is being operated on highways with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less;

We have no government officials conducting any business within our communities that would require the use of a golf cart. However, if the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s office decided to use golf carts to patrol our communities, this exemption would give them the legal right to do so.

  1. As necessary by employees of public or private two-year or four-year institutions of higher education if operating on highways within the property limits of such institutions, provided the golf cart or utility vehicle is being operated on highways with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less;

This exemption pertains to Collages or any school of higher education that offers a two- or four-year degree upon successful graduation and does not apply to our issues. Golf Carts used at these facilities are normally used by building maintenance departments as well as on campus security.

  1. On a secondary highway system component that has a posted speed limit of no more than 35 miles per hour and is within three miles of a motor speedway with a seating capacity of at least 25,000 but less than 90,000 on the same day as any race or race-related event conducted on that speedway;

This exemption does not apply to our communities and has nothing to do with becoming a golf cart community.

  1. To the extent necessary for employees of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, operating only on highways located within Department of Conservation and Recreation property or upon Virginia Department of Transportation-maintained highways that are adjacent to Department of Conservation and Recreation property, to fulfill a governmental purpose, provided that the golf cart or utility vehicle is being operated on highways with speed limits of no more than 35 miles per hour; and

Again, since we have no employees that work for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, this exemption does not apply to our communities.

  1. To cross a one-lane or two-lane highway from one portion of a venue hosting an equine event to another portion thereof if (i) the crossing occurs on the same day as such equine event, (ii) a temporary traffic control zone is established at such crossing with speed limits of no more than 35 miles per hour, and (iii) the crossing and highway vehicular traffic are being monitored and controlled by a uniformed law-enforcement officer.

This section does not apply to our communities.

  1. The governing body of any county, city, or town may by ordinance impose additional restrictions or limitations on operations of golf carts, utility vehicles, or both, on public highways within its boundaries, provided that the restrictions or limitations imposed by any such ordinance are no less stringent than the restrictions and limitations contained in this article. In the event that any provision of any such ordinance conflicts with any provision of this section other than subdivision B 5, the provision of the ordinance shall be controlling.

This section is very important, and it has a lot to do with our situation. All it really means is that even though a town or county may have the authority to alter these sections, they do not have the authority to remove or lessen any of the restrictions, that falls under the Virginia Code § 46.2-916.3.

This section gives them the authority to add additional restrictions or limitations but restricts them from removing or making them less stringent, EXCEPT for subdivision B-5. Section B-5 does not pertain to our communities nor does it have anything to do with becoming a golf cart community. In the examples show further down in this report, you will see where Westmoreland County has added further restrictions for Golf Cart Communities.

On November 14th, 2018., I met with the Westmoreland County Administrator. During our conversation, Mr. Risavi told me he had this conversation concerning becoming a golf cart community, many times in the past with our membership. He informed me that our Community has brought this issue up before with Westmoreland County, and always ended with the same results.

The Stratford Harbor HOA Community is in the same process as we are, at this time, they have not achieved their goal of becoming a “Golf Cart” Community. They started their research/process in September of 2015 according to their Board Minutes. This is what was posted in their May 2017 BODs Meeting Minuets. All documents used concerning the Stratford Harbor HOA, were found in the public domain without copyright protection.

Golf Cart Status: ***** ***** reported that his efforts have hit another roadblock in that VDOT rules prohibit golf carts not only on roads that have speed limits above 25mph, but on roads that are adjacent to them.

The following restrictions were placed on two communities that the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors granted permission to, for authorizing them to become a “Golf Cart Community”. Please keep in mind that all their streets, were already set at 25 miles per hour by VDOT when these communities were built as that was the information I was provided with from some of their Residents

26 – 154. Operation of Golf Carts

  • (a) The operation of golf carts shall be permitted within the public streets and rights-of-way of the Placid Bay Estates community. Such operations shall be limited to public streets and rights-of-way that are posted with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. The operation of golf carts shall not be permitted on any street located outside of this community.

Westmoreland County used the Virginia Code, to reaffirm what the speed limit must be to drive a golf cart within their community.

Division 2. Generally

  • 26 – 160. Safety Markings Approvals and Maintenance. The County Administrator, or his designee, shall approve any related signage, markings or other safety warning devises that are permanently affixed and he shall be able to collect such funds from such requesting organizations, individual or entities necessary for their maintenance, construction and installation.

This is Westmoreland County informing this community, that it is now a Law that they must pay Westmoreland County for any signs, safety warning devices, road markings, maintenance as well as installation of such devices.

26 – 161. Notification of Maintenance Funds to Organizations.

  • The Administrator shall notify such organization of any needed maintenance funds at least thirty days prior to initiation of any such work. Such organization shall promptly provide such funds to the County prior to work initiation. Failure to provide these funds within ten days shall allow the County Administrator or his designee to revoke the privileges provided in § 26 – 150 above.

This is another Law that Westmoreland County applied to this Community. It basically states that when WC sends you the bill, you have x amount of days to pay us, or we have the right to revoke your privilege to drive golf carts in your community, in a legal manner. This is paid by the community requesting this privilege.

Sections (a) and (b) below have been omitted as they simply mimic Virginia State Law, as explained above. The restrictions below, have been added by Westmoreland County and are more restrictive, the Virginia Code mentioned above, and they are within their right to do so, because Virginia State Law gives them the authority to do so.

(c) The propulsion system shall not be modified to allow the golf cart to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum design speed of the golf cart;

No hot rods. You cannot take a Honda 250cc motor and install it into your golf cart.

(e) Golf cart operators shall obey all laws, regulations and safety standards applicable to vehicular traffic;

When driving a golf cart, you must obey any laws that would apply to driving a car.

(f) Golf carts shall be equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, mirrors, and seat belts;

Virginia Law states you only need this equipment if you drive at night. Westmoreland County states you will have this equipment installed on your golf cart, regardless of the time you are driving.

(g) Golf carts operated on public streets or rights-of-way shall be inspected annually by a licensed dealer;

Just as you do with your car, you will also do with your golf cart.

(h) Owners shall present proof of annual inspection and proof of insurance to the Westmoreland County Treasurer before purchasing a motor vehicle decal, which shall be displayed on the golf cart.

For you to legally drive a golf cart, you must have an inspection sticker, proof of insurance on the golf cart and then pay for your decal that is placed on the golf cart.

26 – 171. Definition of Golf Cart.

  • A golf cart is defined as any three or four wheeled electric or gas powered cart that is sold as a “golf cart.” A golf cart does not include “all terrain vehicles,” “farm vehicles ” or “go-carts” as defined by Virginia Code § 46.2-1993 or other low gravity centered motorized vehicle.

They are simply stating what they consider a golf Cart. This is my recommendation on how to proceed with this issue.

  1. We need to find out how many property owners are willing to support this issue within Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point.
  2. We need to contact the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors and see if they are willing to support our efforts, once we receive the community support needed as mentioned above. Without majority membership support from Glebe Harbor and Cabin Point, more than likely the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors will simply deny the petition/motion to proceed with this project.

We need to also realize that there is also a chance that even if we do gain the support needed, VDOT could very well deny our request. This could be for making sure we have the needed funds to pay for their survey before hand, or time restrictions they may have concerning other projects that would take priority over ours.

I would like to conclude this research by saying that any Resident of Westmoreland County, has the right/privilege of attending the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, monthly open meetings. You have the right to asked to be placed on their agenda to speak. You have the right to ask them the procedure on what it would take to become a Golf Cart Community. You can find their contact information and procedures here. http://www.westmoreland-county.org/board-supervisors

Sincerely, Your Neighbor.

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