Golf carts can now travel between China Grove, Landis

Published 12:05 am Friday, August 5, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

CHINA GROVE — Unless you’re headed to Kannapolis, there’s no car needed to drive between towns in southern Rowan County.

For years, it’s been legal to drive a golf cart within China Grove’s town limits. Driving golf carts in Landis became OK in July. Now, China Grove has finalized rules that allow golf carts to travel between the two towns. In addition to golf carts, some other low-speed vehicles will also be allowed to drive between the two towns.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing,” said China Grove Police Chief Andrew Deal. “It will promote a little more community-oriented-type environment.”

Officially, China Grove and Landis consider a low-speed vehicle to be four-wheeled and unable to travel more than 28 mph. Kannapolis’ ordinances don’t contain a similar allowance for golf carts within its limits.

So far, Deal said China Grove hasn’t experienced any problems with low-speed vehicles, which are required to travel on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less. Golf carts, for example, cannot travel on U.S. 29.

Multiple town council members, including Mayor Lee Withers, own golf carts. Previous Mayor Don Bringle even owns a golf cart. Withers said his family uses the golf cart to travel to the grocery store, drug store, local football games, restaurants and even occasionally to church.

Withers said the changes approved this week by the China Grove town council promotes connectivity between the China Grove and Landis.

“At least now, you can see your family and neighbors who live a mile down the road in Landis,” he said.

There are small differences, but laws for golf carts and low-speed vehicles in Landis and China Grove are essentially identical.

In order to legally drive a golf cart or low-speed vehicle, some paperwork is required. Both towns require people to have liability insurance, be older than 16, have a driver’s license and obtain a $50 permit. The permit cost goes down to $10 per year after the first year. Both towns allow permits to be refused for any safety reason.

The most significant part of new rules approved this week by China Grove apply to permits. For example, a person who lives in Landis, has a proper permit and drives his or her golf cart into China Grove will not need a second permit.

“We’ve had our low-speed vehicle ordinance for some time and then Landis passed theirs,” said Town Manager Ken Deal. “We’re just trying to ensure that our citizens can go there and their citizens can come here.”

Even if it’s a small effect, Deal said an increased use of  electric golf carts to travel around south Rowan would prevent any air pollution that typically comes from cars.

Similar to cars, Police Chief Deal said his officers are able to issue tickets for low-speed vehicles who break traffic laws. For example, officers can charge people with driving while intoxicated if the person drinks alcohol and drives a golf cart on town streets.

Golf carts and low-speed vehicles must also have headlights, brake lights and turn signals in order to drive on town streets at night. Otherwise, the vehicles can only be on town roads during the day.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.