Written by Publisher, Wakulla.com Tuesday, 13 December 2005 13:57
Shell Point is Designated as
Golf Cart Community
Golf Cart Community
The Wakulla County Board of Commissioners officially approved the request by the Shell Point community to be designated a golf cart community during a public hearing at the December 5 Board meeting. Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the ordinance, with Commissioner Langston voting in the minority. Comments from several Shell Point community members were heard before the vote was taken.
Shell Point resident Ron Piesecki commented that the group that has been supporting this all along are mostly the people from the village. He bought a golf cart and had it fixed up with all the extras it will need to meet specifications for compliance. He stated that his main concern all along has been the
Shell Point resident Ron Wagner said, " I have a golf cart. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a matter of where you live in the village. Everybody had a chance to say their piece at the firehouse meeting. It wonâ€™t cost you a thousand dollars to fix your golf cart up. My wifeâ€™s has everything; itâ€™s legal. Mr. Brimner has seen it. Itâ€™s (the ordinance) something thatâ€™s good for most of us. Thereâ€™s always going to be some who are against it. I think the majority of us want it and need it. I hope yaâ€™ll pass it."
Resident Alan Lamarche commented that, according to the way the ordinance is written, there is no cost to anyone who currently has a golf cart at Shell Point so long as they operate it in daylight hours. He stated that those who do choose to operate their golf carts after dark have already made that investment, and those who haven't made the investment obviously have not decided to operate after dark. Said Lamarch, "We appreciate the commission taking the time theyâ€™ve taken on this issue; we appreciate Mr. Kesslerâ€™s past support of this issue. And on a different subject we do want to thank the commissioners for having the earlier (pavilion) workshop; we do appreciate it very much. I just hope this isnâ€™t payback time for us now because we had a different opinion than some of our neighbors." He continued by thanking everyone who came earlier for their views and assured them that the Shell Point community will continue to be one. Continued Lamarch, "The fact that we didnâ€™t get the vote the way we wanted (on the pavilion) doesnâ€™t mean we arenâ€™t going to continue to work with them on our community issues. We understand the way the system works. And that goes for the past support that weâ€™ve had from the entire community on the golf cart issue."
Shell Point resident Byron Price agreed with Lamarche, saying "I think the large majority of the community there does support this; itâ€™s been hashed back and forth to ad nauseum. The Naumann group, I know they are set up to have golf cart friendly facilities out there, parking places, that sort of thing, to encourage golf cart traffic versus vehicular traffic. Itâ€™s safer, and of course the Sheriffâ€™s Office and the Traffic Safety Control Board who are charged with these concerns are very much in favor of this. I wonâ€™t waste any more of your time; youâ€™ve heard it all. We hope we have your support. Thank you.
Joan Fowinkle of Shell Point commented that one of the ways Shell Point community members currently enjoy the sunset is to either ride their bikes or golf carts down to the beach. She stated that in the past they have been doing this illegally, but everyone has looked the other way. She added that making this a golf cart community will help all who drive their golf carts in the Shell Point area do so under the legal requirements of the State of Florida. She said in her view there was absolutely no reason not to vote for approval of the ordinance. She stated that Shell Point has the support of the Sheriff's Office and the community itself, and approval of the ordinance is going to make Shell Point Beach an even more appealing and charming place to live and have fun.
Commissioner Langston commented, "I think everybody knows that Iâ€™ve been opposed to this and basically itâ€™s not because I donâ€™t want to designate Shell Point as a golf cart community, because golf carts are fun to get around on. My issue is simply that I donâ€™t think golf carts should be on county roads where cars are going up and down the roads; itâ€™s that simple." He added that whether or not the ordinance passes he would like to ask those folks who are pushing this to continue to work with the Shell Point developer and maybe come up with some other ways of getting around Shell Point..
Commissioner Brimner commented that whether or not the ordinance passes, golf carts are going to be on the road in Shell Point. He suggested that if the ordinance were passed, it will put the people who own the golf carts on notice that if they are going to be driving this them at night, they will have to have the safety features that are necessary so that traffic can see them. Said Brimner, "We could ask the sheriff to go down and issue tickets for anyone they find on the road now, but we probably wonâ€™t and by passing this ordinance weâ€™re going to set the place up so that as Shell Point continues to grow and as we continue to develop down there we will keep in mind that we want to develop it in a way that is safe for golf carts, and that is safe for a community which really does have a great community spirit. Anyone who went down there after Hurricane Dennis hit and saw the way the community pulled together can see that this is really a pretty special place down at Shell Point. I encourage the Board to vote to support this."
Kessler called Alan Lamarche back to the podium and asked him whether golf carts are gasoline powered, and whether they were allowed on the beach.
Lamarche responded by saying that there is a minority of golf carts that are gasoline powered. He added that none of the responsible golf carters go down to the water's edge, and that most of the golf carts stay on the upper area of the beach. Said Lamarch, "There is no environmental problem that occurs when they (golf carts) are used properly. We do occasionally see golf carts that go down below the high water mark, and we donâ€™t agree with this. We will be happy to help you police that situation."
Kessler then directed a comment to the entire Shell Point community, stating that he hoped in the future the community could come together and come to a decision on issues without having to involve the Board.
Chairman Maxie Lawhon asked Mr. Lamarche how the upcoming development at Shell Point would affect the golf carts traveling at night?
Lamarche stated that Shell Point will have appropriate signs advising people who are coming in to the area that they will be sharing the roads with golf carts. The golf carts will be lighted at night like any other vehicle. Added Lamarch, "The new development has provided golf cart parking areas to accommodate the community. The problem is we cannot get there legally, even to get to the new restaurant when itâ€™s there because we have to cross county roads. Golf carts donâ€™t use up much parking space, so it will benefit the county to allow the use of golf carts. It will take some pressure off the county to where providing more parking is concerned."
Commissioner Vause commented that if Shell Point is designated a golf cart community, what if Oyster Bay decides to do the same? How will they get down to the beach area without going down a county road?
Mr. Lamarche stated that they can only travel on Canal Street, which is a back street that connects Oyster Bay to the Shell Point area.
Brimner made the motion to adopt the ordinance, with Commissioner Lawhon seconding it.
Shell Point Beach Pavilion Placement
Another Shell Point item that came before the Board on December 5 was where to place the planned Shell Point Beach pavilion. The Board had initially agreed with the recommendation to build the pavilion on the west side of the Shell Point Beach restroom facilities, but a group of Shell Point residents came out in opposition of this idea at the last Board meeting. They felt placing the pavilion on the west side of the beach area would hinder the public's ability to see the evening sunsets, and requested that the pavilion be placed on the east side instead. The Board decided to have a workshop to further address the issue on December 5, prior to the regular Board meeting.
Commissioner Kessler opened the topic by stating that a workshop had just been held prior to tonight's meeting, and that many people there stated their opinions on where the pavilion should be placed. Kessler stated that a committee had originally been set up to decide on the site, and had chosen the west side for various reasons. He added that there were many citizens who felt it should be on the east side because of the affect on the sunsets.
Commissioner Brimner commented that it's not about the sunset; it's about our county government and how we do things. He added that the original committee met correctly and advertised correctly. He recommended that the Board allow a committee who works properly to make a decision, and then take their lead.
Commissioner Lawhon agreed, adding that he felt the committee had done a great job. Said Lawhon, "I think they involved people. The people who weren't initially involved didn't want to be involved until a later date, but that's neither here nor there."
Brimner suggested that the Board not vote, and just let the original decision of the committee stand.
Kessler made a motion to let the pavilion stand where the committee originally sited it. Commissioner Vause seconded the motion. It passed in a 5 - 0 vote.
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