But rules would still restrict the vehicles from some town roads

PENDER COUNTY -- Golf cart owners in Topsail Beach may be able to drive the electric vehicles on roads within the Pender County beach town later this year.

The town planning board has a draft golf cart ordinance and permit application, the details of which establish rules for licensed drivers.

Golf carts are a popular mode of transportation in beach communities, and questions about using them in Topsail Beach -- as well as an increased use of them in the Pender town -- prompted the planning board to create the ordinance.

Proposed rules would allow golf carts on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.

Golf carts would not be permitted to travel on South Anderson Boulevard and North Anderson Boulevard north of the intersection of Empie Avenue and South Anderson Boulevard, sidewalks or bike paths.

“You can cross North Anderson to get from one side of the street to another, but you cannot drive in a 45 zone,” planning board member Rodney Dillman said.

The proposed ordinance, which is modeled after Carolina Beach’s golf cart ordinance, includes a seat belt requirement.

Dillman said that, according to a University of North Carolina at Wilmington study, about 40 percent of injuries sustained in golf cart accidents are those of children.

“We felt, and I think others felt that a seat belt requirement was important here” he said. “It does require that not only they be equipped but they be worn.”

Other rules under the town’s proposed ordinance would require golf carts to have headlights, taillights and reflectors when operating before and after sunset as well as at least one operational mirror.

Topsail Beach property owners would pay a $25 permit application fee. Non-residents would be charged $50 for a permit under the proposed ordinance.

Permits would have to be obtained annually. Anyone caught breaking those rules would be fined or lose their golf cart permit.

Town commissioners reviewed the proposed ordinance earlier this week and asked for additional time to consider the matter.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 12.

Surf City, one of three towns that shares Topsail Island, initially approved the use of golf carts on town streets in fall 2013 but then reversed itself a few months later, citing safety concerns.

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