081717 Pawleys Island: Golf carts will need town permits in 2018
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Pawleys Island: Golf carts will need town permits in 2018

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Golf carts will need to be registered to operate on Pawleys Island next year. Town Council this week gave final approval to a permit plan initiated last summer. The increase in traffic prompted the move, Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said.

It is still unclear how the rule will be enforced. The ordinance allows police to ticket or impound a golf cart parked on public property without a valid permit. That would fall under the town’s parking ordinance, Fabbri said.

“It may put you sideways with how I interpret state law,” Town Attorney David DuRant said. That law doesn’t allow local government to impose additional restrictions of golf carts. It also doesn’t include any penalties for violations of the state law, an omission that frustrates law enforcement. “When you start saying we’re going to give tickets out, you start running into some issues,” DuRant said.

The goal isn’t to ticket people, Fabbri said, it’s to establish that the golf carts comply with the state law. “There’s no other requirement above and beyond what the state asks you to meet,” he said.

To get a permit will require proof of state registration, proof of insurance and a certification that the owner understands state laws about operating golf carts.

The state allows golf carts to operate within 4 miles of the owner’s home roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less. It gives towns the option to reduce that range to 2 miles, which Pawleys Island has done.

Fabbri said permits will be issued if the owner’s address is within two miles of the town limit on the North Causeway and South Causeway. An annual permit will cost $10.

“We’re not going to go out there and start giving tickets,” Fabbri said. “If you get a ticket it’s going to be after a few times of not doing what you’ve been told.”

The town once banned golf carts. A change in state law in 2012 ended its ability to restrict the vehicles. Golf carts have grown more popular on Pawleys Island and the Litchfield Beaches. But town officials say they are adding to traffic on Myrtle Avenue, the only road between the north and south ends of the island.

The town originally proposed starting the registration program this year. That was delayed while DuRant reviewed the idea. Town Council gave first reading to a registration ordinance in January.

Council Member Sarah Zimmerman questioned whether the permit plan would eliminate golf cart rentals. “It doesn’t eliminate anything,” Mayor Bill Otis said.

“It’s an education tool for us,” Police Chief Mike Fanning said.

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