BY NEEL KELLER
THE OUTER SENTINEL
After a unanimous vote by the Dare Board of Commissioners at its Aug. 20 meeting, Buxton is joining other villages on Hatteras Island that allow the use of golf carts on selected roads. The carts are already allowed on specified streets in the villages of Avon, Waves and Hatteras, the last being the only village where the carts are allowed on N.C. 12.
The vote followed a public hearing on the proposal, during which two Buxton residents spoke remotely from the Fessenden Center. Wanda Magness said she was “all for the golf carts” and asked if they would be permitted to “cross Highway Twelve.”
Mike Finnegan said he was also “in favor” of allowing carts, noting that it would bring additional revenue to Buxton, help the elderly and perhaps “slow the traffic down some.”
In her presentation, Dare County Planning Director Donna Creef explained that the revision of the Dare County Code allowing carts in Buxton does not allow them to drive on or cross N.C. 12. She suggested adding language to make that clearer.
Dare Sheriff Doug Doughtie spoke briefly, explaining that he had opposed allowing the vehicles on N.C. 12 due to its higher volume of traffic and documented cases of motorists speeding on the road, presenting a serious risk to passengers on the slow moving golf carts that have no safety equipment such as seat belts.
Doughtie confirmed that his staff will be ready to enforce the prohibition on driving on or crossing N.C. 12, stating that they would ticket the offenders and “take the golf cart.”
While the board discussed additional regulations — such as requiring the registration of golf carts and adding seat belts — the commissioners decided not to proceed with those rules after hearing from Commissioner and Buxton resident Danny Couch.
Couch urged the board not to “overregulate” the issue, explaining: “You’re talking about a handful of smaller motels, and essentially the rental cottages are on about a one-mile stretch down Old Lighthouse Road.” He added that Kill Devil Hills and Duck have “ten times the volume of traffic that we have down there [in Buxton].”
Asked how many golf carts can be expected to hit the streets of Buxton, Creef said it will not be a small number.
“Golf carts are a big business,” she said. She described recently seeing vehicles driving to the Outer Banks from Virginia, noting that, “They all had golf carts. So it’s a very big deal.”