BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A packed Fort Madison Council Chambers saw the Fort Madison City Council edge closer to allowing golf carts and ATVs on certain city streets.
The council voted 4-3 on the second reading of the ordinance to allow the vehicles on city streets with the exception of 15th and 18th streets, Hwy. 2, and Business 61.
The ordinance would follow county regulations and would allow licensed drivers 18 and older to operate golf carts, ATVS, and side-by-sides on city streets.
Earlier this year, the Lee County Supervisors and West Point City Council approved similar measures.
Councilmen Matt Mohrfeld, Chris Greenwald, Rusty Andrews, and Kevin Rink voted in favor of the move, while Bob Morawitz, Mark Lair, and Chad Cangas all voted against the measure. The vote was on the same lines as the first reading.
The ordinance will require a third reading at the Oct. 15 meeting and then would go into effect after it is published.
Eleven residents went to the podium to give their opinion on the proposed code change.
Councilman Chad Cangas suggested toward the end of the discussion that the issue be put on a ballot to applause from the standing-room only crowd, but Morawitz said that wouldn’t be a legal question.
“That’s not a question that the state will allow you to put on a ballot,” Morawitz said.
He said the comments he’s received from the constituents he’s heard from is that they don’t want the change, so that’s how he will continue to vote.
Greenwald said his position is centered around creating a new law and whether the law creates a freedom or a limitation.
“This brings one of the biggest things that a council can do – create a law. We live in a free country and it comes down to whether we prohibit a freedom or allow it,” he said.
Fort Madison resident Dave Bohnenkamp spoke to the council and asked that the issue be tabled until the next city council is seated in January.
Former City Councilman Brian Wright asked what it would take to reverse the ordinance should it be passed by the current council. City Attorney Robert Johnson said it would be like any other added agenda item at the request of the City Manager, the Mayor, or two city council representatives.