Beacon Woods golf cart owner defies violation notice

Article Courtesy of The Suncoast News

By Carl Orth

Published November 21, 2011 

With high gasoline prices and soaring grocery prices, Yves Dandurand prefers to get around the Beacon Woods area on his electric golf cart.

His alternative means of transportation, however, could wind up costing him.

Dandurand is defying a Nov. 3 notice of violation from the Beacon Woods Civic Association, which bans driving golf carts on the community's streets.

In fact, few streets in West Pasco permit golf cart traffic, according to county officials.

The association reserves the right to impose fines on Dandurand, starting at $25 a day, according to the notice from Gerry Seidel, manager of deed restrictions for the 1,200-home Beacon Woods community.

Fines don't bother Dandurand because, he said, "I'm never going to pay them anyway."

Yves Dandurand defies Beacon Woods restrictions by backing his golf cart out of his driveway onto local streets. The subdivision does not allow unlicensed or unregistered vehicles to operate on streets.

In 2009, Dandurand butted heads with association leaders over a picket fence outside his patio home on Magnolia Grove Lane. He then strung Christmas lights on the fence. Association leaders said they objected to the fence, not the decorative, holiday lights.

The latest infraction letter infuriated him, Dandurand said, since he has traveled extensively on area streets the past two years in the golf cart he bought in September 2009.

Dandurand even travels with his dog, Ronnie, on some of his treks along two of the community's main roads, Beacon Woods Drive and Clocktower Parkway. He sometimes goes to stores in the area. Dandurand steers his cart to the far right side of the road, within bike lanes where available. The cart provides him transportation without using gasoline or causing pollution, he reasons.

"It is a safety thing," Seidel said. Many vehicles travel Beacon Woods Drive and Clocktower Parkway.

"They're not allowed to be driven in the community," Seidel said about golf carts.

The deed restrictions also ban the parking of unlicensed or unregistered vehicles in the driveways of residences, Seidel explained. Any violation would go through several hearings before fines would be levied, she added. Golf carts are allowed only on the golf course and the golf cart crossings along streets, Seidel said. Maintenance crews use a type of golf cart around the subdivision, but those are registered for special use.

"The roads in Beacon Woods are not designated for use by golf carts," Robert W. Reck as Pasco's traffic operations manager confirmed in an email reply. "Any golf carts driven on these roads are subject to citation by the Sheriff's Office."

Only Timber Oaks roadways and four streets in Beacon Woods East are authorized for golf cart traffic, Reck's records show.

"There's very few," Reck said in a phone interview. "Anybody can request it," Reck added about seeking authorization for golf carts.

Sgt. Art Rowand, supervisor of the Pasco Sheriff's Office traffic unit, provided copies of state laws on the issue. The state grants the right to counties and cities to designate certain streets for use by golf carts.

"Prior to making such a designation, the responsible local governmental entity must first determine that golf carts may safely travel on or cross the public road or street, considering factors including the speed, volume, and character of motor vehicle traffic using the road or street," the state statute reads in part. If golf carts are allowed, signs must be posted on the roads.

Dandurand did relent on another issue raised in the Nov. 3 violation notice from the civic association. He removed a "for sale" sign from a wall of his condo, which violates restrictions, and posted the sign instead in the yard.

On the golf cart issue, though, Dandurand remains defiant. "Who gives them the power to tell me I can't drive my golf cart?"