Golf cart debate in Chesterfield leaves residents in limbo

Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 10:19 PM CDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOV) - A growing debate over a growing method of local transport is brewing in some West County communities.

According to a recent post from the Chesterfield Police Department, golf carts and unlicensed ‘low speed vehicles’ are banned from city streets, per a local ordinance. Golf carts can’t get licensed because they are not powerful enough. Chief Ray Johnson says the city council sees it as a safety issue.

“You’re mixing a very lightweight golf cart with automobiles on the same street,” Johnson said. “They do not have the safety features an automobile does.”

Johnson said unsafe driving hasn’t been a huge issue in Chesterfield, and the penalty is most often just a code violation or traffic ticket. But residents in subdivisions like Chesterfield’s Fienup Farms have been pushing for a reversal.

Resident Dawn Sonntag says her family purchased a golf cart last year, learning that they can’t legally use it to get around the neighborhood.

“We have a garden on the far other side of the subdivision, that it’s very helpful to get to our garden,” Sonntag said. “It would be great if it was clear cut, because we do get pushback.”

“I think golf carts just make sense in our subdivision, when we moved in, it was kind of made known that it was a golf cart friendly community with the amenities spread out and no public parking.”

Partly because of advocacy by Fienup Farms residents, the issue came up in a Chesterfield City Council committee meeting in March. Leaders suggested allowing subdivisions to opt into allowing golf carts, but no official changes have been made.

In recent years, many Missouri municipalities have allowed golf carts, relying on state statues that say municipalities can choose how to regulate them, if at all. Webster Groves passed an ordinance in 2021 allowing them. They have also become popular in the St. Louis City neighborhood of Soulard.