Wayzata considering golf carts for dockside deliveries

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 30, 2012 - 6:24 PM

The City Council will vote Tuesday whether to allow utility-terrain vehicles on a limited number of streets to ease lake access for restaurants and some residents and increase the charm.

Golf carts may soon be zipping between bayside restaurants and docks in Wayzata as part of the Lake Minnetonka city's increasing efforts to make the community a destination for local tourists.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on a proposed ordinance allowing recreational vehicles such as golf carts on some streets due, in part, to a request from Terri Huml, owner of Gianni's Steakhouse. If approved, Huml will soon launch her restaurant's black canopy-topped golf cart to the city's three docks to shuttle hot meals to boaters.

"We're really trying to make the community a destination location," she said. "All these things add charm to Wayzata."

Red Wing and Ramsey also allow golf carts on some city streets, and nearby Minnetrista allows small utility minitrucks. If the ordinance is approved in Wayzata, it would allow commercial businesses to use golf carts or utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) on city streets with posted speeds of 30 miles per hour or less. Residents in two single-family neighborhoods -- Enchanted Woods and Locust Hills -- could also use them only within their neighborhood to get to lake accesses or nearby docks.

Owners must have a permit from the Police Department and insurance, and drivers must have a valid state driver's license to be on streets between sunrise to sunset.

Those tight restrictions, Police Chief Mike Risvold said, alleviates public safety concerns about droves of golf carts driving around busy Wayzata streets. "We're not anticipating very many of these," he said of golf carts.

City Manager Heidi Nelson said the change is "an opportunity to provide additional flexibility for our businesses and neighborhoods."

Huml's restaurant has served eight to 10 orders a night to boaters by delivering to docks on foot the past three years. The change would ease the process and, she hopes, dish up more dockside business for Gianni's and other Wayzata restaurants.

"It would be just darling for the city ... [and] put charm and a sort of resort feel to Wayzata," she said.

Because space for boaters to dock and visit downtown Wayzata is limited, the dockside delivery will allow boaters to get a taste of Wayzata without leaving the bay, she said.

The proposal is part of a growing emphasis in Wayzata to boost lakefront business. The city has already loosened regulations on sidewalk patios and is surveying residents this year as part of a 10-year project to make the lakefront more attractive.

With commercial development making up a third of the city's tax base, Mayor Ken Willcox said the entire city stands to benefit.

It's a "large, ambitious effort," he said. "We all feel there's more we could do with the lakefront."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141; Twitter: @kellystrib

  • WHAT'S NEXT

    What: Wayzata City Council will vote on the proposal

    When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

    Where: City Hall, 600 Rice St, East, Wayzata

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