A Leesburg company has been given the green light it’s been waiting for to offer a new downtown shuttle service.
It’s come a few months later than initially hoped, as Asa Rusk had planned to launch his Cartwheels service in August. The company use road-ready golf carts to give visitors to the booming restaurant and brewery scene a safe way to travel the bustling streets.
On Tuesday night, the Town Council approved a Town Code amendment Rusk needed to launch his business. Approved on a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Tom Dunn opposed, the amendment will allow golf carts operated by businesses to be driven on designated downtown streets. The amendment carries several restrictions and regulations, including not allowing golf carts to be operated during the hours of 7-9 a.m. and 5-6 p.m., prime rush hour for the downtown. The golf carts may only pick up and drop off passengers in public parking lots, empty parking spaces or loading zones, including the recently named Lassiter Way alley, and private lots if the owner receives permission. There are also regulations attached to equipment for the golf carts, including requiring seatbelts, headlights and other safety features.
The adopted amendment also mandates a $500 annual permit for golf cart shuttle service businesses. The business will also be subject to BPOL tax collection. The adopted amendment also stipulates that no more than two golf carts per company may be in operation at any one time.
It’s an initiative that had the support of many in the downtown business community, with local attorney Rhonda Paice presenting the council with a petition in support that had been signed by many business owners. Council members in support of the amendment lauded the economic impact the business could have on the downtown area.
Dunn cited safety concerns in his dissenting vote. “You’ve got a vehicle that’s going to be on the losing end of any crash,” he noted.
But Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox pointed out that bicycles have even fewer safety features than the road-ready golf carts, and yet the council often looks for ways to encourage bicycle use throughout town. She said as long as the business is insured—a requirement spelled out in the code amendment—she could support it.