Brakes pumped on plan to allow golf carts for beach travel in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — The Police Commission referred a proposal for street legal golf carts to the Representative Town Meeting, but the town’s legislative body is holding up a stop sign.
RTM member Brian Farnen, R-9, had approached the commission with a proposal that would allow golf carts on streets in the beach area. He presented regulations, a list of streets, and an online petition with more than 500 signatures at the commission’s July 11 meeting.
While state statute gives the final say on the use of golf carts to a town’s traffic authority, the commission voted 4 to 3 to refer the issue to the RTM for an ordinance.
“We’re going to push the pause button,” Farnen said, and instead of trying to sell fellow RTM members on the ordinance, he will meet with other town boards and departments before going back to the Police Commission. “We’re also not going to bring the item forward unless we can get to a consensus.”
Farnen said they originally sought an RTM review to provide “a higher level of comfort to the Police Commission on their ultimate decision and believed it would be necessary to assist the Police Commission with details of administering the program after approval.”
RTM Minority Leader Pam Iacono, R-8, was one of those people not happy with the Police Commission’s referral. “Without even getting into the safety, liability, and traffic issues, I believe this issue is improperly before the RTM,” Iacono said, adding that the close vote by the Police Commission is very telling.
“All one needs to do is read the state statute to see that this issue resides with the traffic authority, in our case that would be the Police Commission,” Iacono said. “RTM members are not traffic and safety experts.”
She said the state statute spells out what is allowed. “What’s next, the Police Commission asking for an RTM ordinance before they determine a one-way road designation? The Police Commission needs to revisit the topic and vote the issue up or down.”
Police Commissioner James Millington, who voted in favor of the referral, said they weren’t abdicating responsibility, since ultimately, even if the RTM approved an ordinance, the final approval would rest with the commission. He said they felt the RTM was the proper body to handle the research and determine who would handle items like issuing permits.
“The feedback I got from leadership is that this should go in front of the Police Commission,” Farnen said.
Farnen’s proposal limits the use of golf carts to daylight hours and licensed drivers over the age of 18. The streets listed in his proposal include One Rod Highway, Reef Road, Beach Road, the Old Post Road, Oldfield Street, and several streets north of Oldfield.
He said they will provide updates during the year and welcome input and involvement from anyone interested in being part of the review.