Council To Consider Allowing Trolley-style Pedal Powered Pub Tours March 13th

Council To Consider Allowing Trolley-style Pedal Powered Pub Tours March 13th

Council To Consider Allowing Trolley-style Pedal Powered Pub Tours March 13th

By / Local News / Monday, 05 March 2018 02:26

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council took no action on a request to amend the Town's Code of Ordinances during their February 13th, meeting to allow for trolley-style passenger vehicles that would offer tours in commercial and residential areas of town as well as permit their passengers to consume beer and wine during tours.

The Council will revisit the proposed amendment during their upcoming Tuesday March 13th, meeting at 6:30pm at Town Hall in the Council meeting room.

During the February meeting, Council wanted more information on safety, defined routes, limits on the number of permits and other aspects of such operations prior to making a final decision.

According to Town Senior Planner Jeremy Hardison, "The Applicant, Tina Bell, applied for a text amendment to allow for bicycle tours that would permit customers to consume beer and unfortified wine while on a trolley-style  vehicle that would tour along a specified route throughout town.  This type of vehicle currently operates in Wilmington, Raleigh and Charlotte. The Town’s current ordinance allows for the operation of taxi cabs, private bus services, rickshaws and pedicabs, but does not address a commercial vehicle that is propelled by multiple passengers not including the operator."

Hardison explained, "Staff has drafted an ordinance to address the allowance of a “Commercial Pedal Vehicle” that is a non-motorized device with four wheels steering for a forward seat driver, 8-16 passenger saddle seats, and pedals by which the device may be propelled upon a street at low speed.  Any proposed Commercial Pedal Vehicle would need to be approved by Town Council. The ordinance would address operating hours, route approval, addresses the consumption of alcohol, and safety concerns. The vehicle is constructed with a low running board, built in coolers, and a bar at which passenger sit and peddle, and are allowed to consume beer and wine, which they must provide themselves."

Hardison explained that State laws do not prohibit the consumption of alcohol for passengers of this type of vehicle. He explained, "The operation of this type of vehicle does not violate the state’s impaired driving laws because the drinkers aren’t drivers. They simply provide the power. They don’t steer, and they aren’t in physical control of the vehicle. The driver is an employee of the business and is not allowed to consume any alcohol. While state law prohibits passengers from consuming alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is being driven on a public street, an exception applies for motor vehicles designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation."

Hardison said the Town's Code of Ordinances would have to be amended because it currently prohibits the possession and consumption of beer and wine in the manner proposed.

He explained, "However, the possession and consumption of beer and wine would violate the town’s open container laws.  The proposed amendment to the town’s open container laws will allow passengers aboard a Commercial Pedal Vehicle business that has been approved by town council to possess and consume beer and unfortified wine."

The Police Advisory Committee reviewed the proposal and recommended approval for the allowance to provide tours while consuming alcohol  on a Commercial Pedal Vehicle, but they had some concerns.

The Committee recommended that customer meeting space and loading areas should take place on private property and that tours should take place on side streets rather than on the busier major thoroughfares of Lake Park Blvd and Dow Road.

The proposal calls for establishing a permit process for pedal powered tours as well as conditions such as operating between the hours of 7 or 8am and 12 midnight.

Under the proposal submitted by the applicant, the proposed routes vary depending on the time of year with stops at various establishments such as Nollies Taco Joint, the Fat Pelican, Island Beverage and others. The applicant also proposes tours of the Carolina Beach State Park off Dow Road, but notes that no alcohol will be permitted on those tours. The park doesn't permit alcohol.

Tours are expected to last upwards of two hours for corporate gatherings, birthday parties, Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, and local restaurant and bar tours.

During the Council's February 13th, meeting the Council heard from many people in the audience that were in support of proposal.

Councilman Tom Bridges said, "I think all the concerns we've had about the routes as far as it's not in the private neighborhoods, not on Lake Park, not on Dow Road, is going to restrict how they can operate, or any business like this. I don't think it's in our interest to create a change in the text amendment that's not going to help anybody make a successful business so I just don't see how with the restrictions we are talking about putting in the ordinance, I don't think that's going to be beneficial to anybody."

Councilman JoDan Garza said, "I disagree. I don't think this is something that's going to be on private roads all day every day. If you look at the routes, time frames and everything, it's just going to bypass. I also personally don't have a problem with it on Dow or Lake Park because it's not as if they are taking it up. It's a little bit wider than your typical golf cart is."

The applicant explained the vehicles have a "motor-assist" feature that can reach an approximate speed of 10 mph.

Town Attorney Noel Fox advised the Council there were two related but separate items on the agenda for the meeting. The first being a text amendment to the ordinances to permit such operations and the second was an application by the applicant for a permit to operate in Carolina Beach.
She said the amendment is a standalone item that would apply to anyone who wished to apply for a permit if it was adopted.

Mayor Joe Benson said he supports the proposal adding, "Separating what's in front of us today, added into an ordinance the safety features that would be necessary to operate."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "If I was to support anything moving forward it would have a caveat that any application would be subject to a defined route and hours of operation." He said he would not support operation on Dow Road stating, "Simply because the speed on Dow Road is so much fast and we don't allow golf carts on Dow Road. I struggle with Lake Park. I would be willing to discuss a requirement in an ordinance change that a business came to us, they have to have safety mechanisms and a defined route that would be approved by Council."

Shuttleworth asked if the Town could limit the number of permits and the Town Attorney said the Town has that authority.

Town Manager Michael Cramer said, "Many of the things that you've brought up here that would be changes, the reason why staff did not put them directly into the ordinance is because we don't have a whole lot of experience with these types of equipment. So anything that we would be writing in that without getting your feedback like we are tonight would be based off of the next application and that would be specific to their business model. What you are trying to do here is you want to make a specific condition on this type of use and then have people come and say that they want to do business under those guidelines. Yes, I would agree that what it sounds like what you are requesting is that this come back to you at a later date with these additions to it."

The Council took no action on the text amendment and asked that the item be brought back to them at their March 13th, meeting with language to address the issues discussed during the meeting.

Hardison explained to Council earlier this week in a memo concerning the March 13th, meeting, "At the last scheduled meeting Town Council reviewed a text amendment application from Tina Bell on creating an allowance for a Commercial Pedal Vehicle that would allow for tours that would permit customers to consume beer and unfortified wine while on a trolley-style vehicle.  Staff heard the following concerns from Council in regards to the application. 1. Additional safety regulations - The ordinance was updated to address headlights, turn signals, tail lights, horns, breaks, and inspections of the vehicle. 2. Limit the number of permits that can be issued – The proposed ordinance allows two permits.  Each permit only allows one vehicle and the same applicant can’t have both permits.  3.     A permit issued by Town Council detailing the route – The initial permit will be issued by Town Council. An annual permit will be issued by staff thereafter. At the time a permit application is received the applicant will present the route to Town Council for approval. 4. Address what streets the vehicle is allowed on, how are the pick up and drop offs occurring, and how they collect their fares. – Staff recommends that the vehicle should not be on Lake Park Blvd and Dow Rd except to cross at a controlled intersection.  Also, not to operate in the R-2 and R-3 [residential] zoning areas.  Drop offs and pickups should occur on private property or with in a designated parking space. The business location where the initial meeting place for patrons should occur on private property, not in a public area. The applicant would like for there to be a stipulation that the above items could be waived by Town Council under the permit review."

Hardison explained, "Staff recommends Ordinance 18-1076 and the budget ordinance to the rates and fees schedule for the amendment to allow for Pedal Vehicles that vehicle should not be on Lake Park Blvd and Dow Rd except to cross at a controlled intersection.  Also, not to operate in the R-2 and R-3 zoning areas. 
Drop offs and pickups should occur on private property or with in a designated parking space. The business location where the initial meeting place for patrons should occur on private property, not in a public area."

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