Golf carts and side by side vehicles could be allowed on McHenry roads in the near future.
The McHenry City Council discussed the matter at its Nov. 18 meeting and decided to move forward to draft an ordinance for further discussion. The nonhighway vehicles could only be allowed on city roads where the speed limit is 25 mph or less. Council members also are debating whether there should be seasonal restrictions.
City officials will have to put together a map of where the vehicles would be allowed to drive, including designated places where drivers could cross major roadways such as Route 120 or Route 31.
Council members said the priority would need to be safety.
"I want to make sure we step slowly," 2nd Ward Alderman Andrew Glab said. "That we analyze it and analyze it well to do the best safety possible."
Huntley and Fox River Grove both allow golf carts to drive on the roadway and Johnsburg allows golf carts, utility task vehicles and “side by side” vehicles to drive on village roads, according to McHenry city documents.
Seventh Ward Alderwoman Sue Miller said she loved the idea but agreed that safety had to come first.
"We need to identify where they can be because we know people are going to want to take them downtown, take them to the bar and take them to a friend's house," Miller said. "Everybody is given an inch and then we take a mile. It needs to be safety first if we are going to do something creative."
Police Chief John Birk said his department would like to require vehicle registration and annual inspections. The ordinance could also be tested on a trial basis, he said.
Drivers must have a license and would be bound to the rules of the road.
Birk said he would work with city staff to draft an ordinance for further discussion.
First Ward Alderman Victor Santi said he would like to start with tight restrictions and see how it goes before loosening the regulations.
"It's the building of a document here," Santi said. "I would like to start on the very, very safety oriented side."