The Nashville Town Council has voted to allow motorized scooter rental companies to operate in town, but don’t expect to see them immediately.

The ordinance which the council approved on June 17 was designed to make Nashville “unattractive” to scooter rentals but still be legally defensible, said Town Attorney James T. Roberts.

Another version which a town employee committee was working on was not voted on at the June meeting; Nancy Crocker, the leader of that working group, deferred to Roberts’ legal advice after town council members Jane Gore and David Rudd said they preferred his version.

The version that Crocker’s group proposed involved amending a current ordinance to remove the ban on skateboarding and rollerblading on Nashville streets and sidewalks, and then rewriting that ordinance to prohibit “powered micro-mobility devices including electronic scooters.” That would make it against town ordinance to ride those scooters on public sidewalks or public roads.

Roberts didn’t think that a total ban on scooters would stand up in court. He said that an international company with resources behind it, like rental companies Lime or Bird Rides, would likely challenge that ban because the town allows other “equally dangerous modes of transportation” like pedicabs, horses, motorcycles and bicycles.

Roberts’ ordinance treats each scooter that a company rents out as a separate business, needing a separate business license from the town. Business licenses cost $30.

Scooters could not be ridden on any sidewalk, pedestrian walkway or public park, which would include the Salt Creek Trail. They could be ridden on any public alley or street, though, including state roads. Roberts clarified at the June meeting that the state has left the question of whether or not these scooters can be ridden on highways up to local jurisdictions. The state has banned their use on interstate highways. The version of the ordinance that the town council passed does not prohibit their use on State Road 46 or State Road 135, which both pass through Nashville.

Riders would have to follow all rules of the road and licensing requirements that other motor vehicles have to follow, the ordinance says.

The new ordinance does not apply to “a device used to aid a person with a disability, including, but not limited to a motorized wheelchair.”

Any scooters that are “left unattended in a public parking area of the Town of Nashville” for more than 24 hours will be impounded, the ordinance says. In previous meetings, council members and town employees had concern about scooters being left on sidewalks, causing trip hazards and eyesores.

The council had done a first reading on this ordinance back in April, but then also passed a temporary ban on scooters so that a committee could look at drafting a different ordinance.

The second reading and final vote were done at the June meeting. It passed 3-1 in June with member Anna Hofstetter against. She had wanted to remove the ban on rollerblading and skateboarding on town streets and sidewalks at the same time. She also had just looked at Roberts’ ordinance before the vote and said she didn’t feel comfortable voting for it yet.

The town council had passed that ban on skateboarding and rollerblading in 2002. Roberts said that his daughter and Gore’s son and their friends were big into those sports at the time and their “aggressive rollerblading” was why it was banned.

Nineteen years later, Crocker said it doesn’t seem like there are many complaints about kids skating, partly because they’re able to do that at the new skate park at Deer Run now.

Roberts said that the ban may be why skating isn’t a problem now, and by removing it, problems could rise. However, the council is open to amending that ordinance. Council members were to get their thoughts together about what parts of the ordinance should change and how, and then talk at a future meeting so that Roberts has clear direction.

© 2022 Brown County Democrat unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.