Golf Cars In The News

Golf Car Use Expands in Windsor Forest

PHOTOGRAPHY: shutterstock / SevenMaps

James City County welcomes Windsor Forest as the fifth neighborhood to permit golf car use on public roads, but unresolved safety concerns raise questions about regulations for these vehicles.

In a recent development, residents of Windsor Forest in James City County now have the green light to drive golf cars on public roads, becoming the fifth neighborhood in the county to permit such use. However, despite the James City County Board of Supervisors’ approval of the permit, lingering safety concerns have cast a shadow over the expansion of golf car use.

The Windsor Forest Homeowners Association initiated the application for the golf car use permit, which underwent review at a board meeting on July 11. Back in 2007, James City County had introduced an ordinance allowing neighborhoods to grant permission for golf cars on their public highways. This ordinance outlines specific requirements, including the necessity for golf car operators in designated neighborhoods to hold a valid driver’s license and insurance, among other provisions.

The decision on the permit application was postponed following concerns raised by Windsor Forest resident Kelly Hasty Kale. Kale expressed apprehensions regarding the specific rules governing golf car use, such as passenger limits, seatbelt requirements, and the operation of golf cars by underage drivers.
Kale pointed out that these questions remained unanswered when the permit was ultimately approved. County Attorney Adam Kinsman had sent her an email in July, referencing Virginia and county code related to golf car use, but Kale asserted that no new information had been provided.

During the September 12 board meeting, Kale cited regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which suggest that golf cars exceeding 20 mph should be treated as motor vehicles. Board member Jim Icenhour questioned Kinsman during the hearing regarding federal regulations versus state and local laws concerning golf cars.

Kinsman responded, “I don’t know that I have a whole lot of experience with federal law, but I can tell you that we’re in compliance with Virginia code.”

Assistant Police Chief Tony Dallman reported that there had been 17 calls related to golf cars in the past year, including three accidents, thefts, and inquiries regarding neighborhood use. One notable incident involved disorderly individuals in a golf car-authorized neighborhood, where golf cars obstructed the road during a community event.

In a subsequent email, county spokesman Tayleb Brooks clarified that this particular incident occurred in the Chickahominy Haven neighborhood on September 15, 2022, and was “the only disorderly person(s) call the PD has received in the last twelve months.”

Kevin Garner, President of the Chickahominy Haven Neighborhood Association, highlighted their efforts to remind residents of golf car rules. He emphasized that, overall, the permit has had a positive impact on the community’s cohesion and that safety enforcement largely relies on community members.

Assistant Police Chief Dallman mentioned that the Windsor Forest Homeowners Association had agreed to manage signage related to golf car use and educate members about regulations. Kinsman clarified that the ordinance provides the board with the option to rescind the permit at any time.

Following the unanimous approval of the Windsor Forest permit by the board, Vice Chair Ruth Larson requested more information from Kinsman regarding communities that allow golf cars and the nature of their policies.