Dorchester: Allow golf carts on streets?
By Kevin O’Brien
Now that ATVs and UTVs are allowed on all of Dorchester’s streets, a few members of the village board would also like to give residents the option of using golf carts to get around.
Trustee Justin Duranceau brought the idea to the board at its monthly meeting on Nov. 6, where it was discussed and tabled until he could get more information about what other municipalities have done on the issue.
Village president Kurt Schwoch expressed reservations about the idea, especially since DNR regulations, such as age limits and helmet requirements, do not cover golf carts like they do ATVs.
“It’s all going to be on us,” he said, referring to village officials having to establish their own rules in an ordinance rather than relaying on state statutes.
Schwoch also wondered whether golf cart operators would need to be insured or registered in order to operate on public roads.
“I see nothing but problems,” he said.
Other board members, however, felt like it would be no big deal to allow golf carts on village roads, since they aren’t able to travel that fast.
Trustee Eric Klemetson said golf carts are no different than riding lawnmowers when it comes to low risk vehicles. Police chief Gary Leichtman suggested that the village contact the Wisconsin League of Municipalities to see if they can offer any guidance on the issue.
Duranceau said his idea would be to have the golf carts registered with the clerk’s office so local police know who is allowed to have one on village roads.
The issue was tabled after Duranceau agreed to do some more research and bring it back to the full board at a future meeting.
In August, the board approved a new ordinance that allows ATVs and UTVs to be operated throughout the village, including in the local park.
Village acquires vacant property
An empty property on Front Street that was recently seized by Clark County due to delinquent taxes will now belong to the village.
The board voted to take ownership of the parcel at 127 S. Front St., which used to belong to resident Terry Recore before he stopped paying taxes on it. A building on the property was torn down in 2013 after it became a health hazard, and it took several more years for the village to get Recore to remove the rubble.
A fence was put up around the property, and Recore was using the lot to store various items, including a trailer that was ordered removed by the board because it violated a village ordinance.
According to county tax records, the lot covers .34 acres and has an assessed value of $7,700, which includes $5,700 for the land and $2,000 for improvements. The 2018 tax bill totalled $2,527.
Village clerk Brooke Bruesewitz said she was contacted by the Clark County treasurer to see if village officials were interested in claiming the parcel before it was put up for auction.
Bruesewitz said the only cost to the village is a $30 transfer fee, plus whatever it costs to clean up the property. As villageowned land, it will no longer be taxed.
In a related matter, police chief Gary Leichtman asked the board to consider condemning the building next to the empty lot, located at 119 S. Front St., which still belongs to the Recore family.
Leichtman said the metal roof is “rolling up,” and the building likely fits the definition of “unsafe and uninhabitable,” which would allow the board to order it torn down.
“You’re going to have to address it at some point,” he told the board.
_ Jenny Halopka, who leases Memorial Hall from the village and books events at the facility, asked the board about the status of improvements at the hall. She said construction materials were left out before an Oct. 19 wedding at the hall, and the father of the bride had to contact village employees to remove the items.
“It looked super unprofessional,” she said. “I would have been really upset if that was my wedding.”
Schwoch said painting at the hall is now done, and he plans on sanding some rough spots on the floor later this year. He also expects concrete to be poured soon for the new wheelchair ramp leading into the hall.
Halopka said she would provide the clerk’s office with a schedule of all the upcoming events at the hall, just to make sure it’s cleaned up ahead of time.
“I want it to look its best when there’s a wedding or something there,” she said.
_ Bruesewitz said the clerk’s office plans on moving over to the new villageowned building at 250 Parkside Dr. at the end of this week, with the goal of being open to the public by Monday, Nov. 18, at the new location.
_ The board tabled a proposal to allow the village park to be used for fourwheeler and dirt bike races on Feb. 29. The event would replace the snowmobile races that have been held on the frozen lake for past few winters. Event organizer Scott Strassburger was not present to speak about the event, so trustees decided to discuss at a future meeting.
_ The board voted to increase garbage and recycling collection rates from $10 to $12 per month — an increase of $6 per quarter. The move was made after the board approved a new contract with Advanced Disposal that will provide residents with wheeled bins for putting out garbage and recyclables every month.
Advanced Disposal is only charging the village $11.75 per month for each residential customer, so the extra 25-cent charge will generate revenue for the village’s general fund.
_ The board voted to remove a yield sign at the corner of West Second Avenue and South Front Street. Trustees thought it was unnecessary and Chief Leichtman did not object.
_ Trustee Duranceau proposed a new ordinance that would make it illegal for people to park within a certain number of feet in front of roadside mailboxes. He said the idea was in response to complaints from residents on North Fourth Street who were upset about an increase in cars parked along the street, blocking traffic and mailboxes.
Chief Leichtman said he is going to be “a little more aggressive” this winter when ticketing cars parked overnight on village streets once the Nov. 15 winter restrictions go into place. He said the issues seem to be isolated to that stretch of Fourth Street, where he has counted 13 different license plates parked in front of just two apartment units.
The board agreed to wait and see how stepped up enforcement would impact the situation before authorizing the village attorney to write a new ordinance.
_ The board approved an alcohol operator’s license for Amanda Newberry.
_ The board approved the village’s snowmobile route for 2019-2020, with no changes from previous years.
_ The board approved a policy allowing the village president or DPW to temporarily abandon the village’s sidewalks — i.e., stop plowing them — during a snow emergency.
“Last year we plowed sidewalks in vain for 30 days before we abandoned them,” Schwoch said.
_ The board accepted the resignation of resident Carol Staab from the police committee. Schwoch said he would recommend a replacement at next month’s meeting.
_ The board rescheduled its next monthly meeting from Wednesday, Dec. 4 to Monday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.
_ The board approved several transfers into the village’s future expenditures fund, which essentially sets unspent money aside for capital projects and equipment purchases.
_ The board approved proposed 2020 budgets for its water and sewer utilities and its general fund, with each account including a contingency after cuts were made. The general fund includes a total property tax increase of about $1,500, with enough money for 3 percent raises for village employees, which will be voted on at a later time.
The board also approved a $44,500 annual contribution to the Dorchester Public Library, with no increase from this year.