They're an integral part of the golf game, seen all over the lake's courses. But they can be a nuisance — potentially a safety hazard — on city streets and sidewalks.

Golf carts — either you love 'em or you don't.

They're an integral part of the golf game, seen all over the lake's courses. But they can be a nuisance — potentially a safety hazard — on city streets and sidewalks.

The Village Four Seasons and the city of Lake Ozark are addressing the use and misuse of golf carts and other types of four-wheel, off-road vehicles as some residents now use them to scurry from Point A to Point B rather than use licensed motor vehicles.

Village Trustees discussed the issue again at their regular monthly board meeting July 12. Village Attorney Todd Miller is drafting an ordinance that re-addresses the issue based on input from the trustees.

But according to a Village ordinance adopted in 2000, it's already illegal to operate any self-propelled vehicle on any sidewalk or any trail within the confines of the Village when there are signs in place notifying the public. The Village has contracted with the Camden County Sheriff's Department to enforce Village Ordinances relating to traffic within Village boundaries. 

CCSD Sgt. Jimmy Elkins, whose unit patrols Horseshoe Bend, told the trustees recently that all motorized vehicles that use public streets must meet the same requirements as any other motorized vehicle. They must be licensed and have appropriate lights.

The abuse of the law appears to cluster in the area of two prominent bars/restaurants on Bittersweet.

"We have an issue a lot of times down by the bars when they try to ride from the condos across the street," Colonel Brashear said.

If the culprits are caught in the act, CCSD deputies issue warnings for the first offense. If they're caught and they're drinking or under the influence, the drivers are issued DWI tickets. The carts or off-road vehicles are then impounded.

"I try to give them at least one warning," Brashear said of drivers who are sober. "We try to keep a handle on it by giving them one warning."

Trustee Chairman Arnold Sandbothe said he would make sure the CCSD had a chance to review the Village's draft ordinance.

The Village of Four Seasons Property Owners' Association (POA) has gotten into the fray as well, adopting a rule in May prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles such as golf carts, ATVs, etc., within or upon the common areas of the association unless a special permit is issued by the association.

That led to more discussion by the board of trustees and Sheriff's Department officials who oppose allowing those types of vehicles by permit.

"I told the POA at its last board meeting that we don't like the idea of issuing permits because it tells them that you can go ride them. I'm concerned that if we stop somebody they'll say 'oh, I have a permit from the POA,' and that's not the case," Brashear said.

There are some private roads under the jurisdiction of the POA and CCSD upon which unlicensed and unregulated motorized vehicles can be ridden. Most of those are in Porto Cima.

Lake Ozark

Lake Ozark has a similar problem with the unauthorized use of golf carts, although the city's problem is mostly along the Strip.

LOPD Chief Gary Launderville told his board of aldermen recently that he hopes the city can come to some type of consensus on how to address the problem.

LOPD officers have issued several warnings in recent weeks based on the city's current ordinance, but the LOPD "continues to get negative feedback for doing its job when it comes to golf carts," Launderville said.

Officers are seeing more "joy riders" and Launderville hopes the board can help resolve the problem.

"The officers feel they are under fire for enforcing the current city codes and it's not fair to them for doing their job and then taking heat over it," Launderville said in a memo to the board.

City Attorney Chris Rohrer is drafting an ordinance for the board's consideration at a future meeting.