The Outer Banks Voice – Beach access debate reignites at Duck reunion


Beach access debate reignites at Duck meeting

By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on April 7, 2022

But the city council sees the issue as ‘a dead issue’

The debate over public or private beach access resurfaced at Duck City Council meeting this week, with the latest round between the owners of Plover Drive – where there is private beach access – and Bob Hovey, a Duck business owner who led a crusade to bring public beach access to township beaches.

Hovey’s efforts to keep the beach access issue alive, however, did not seem to convince council members. Summing up the sentiment at the meeting, Council member Rob Mooney said: “I think it’s kind of a dead issue as far as we’re concerned.”

At the April 6 meeting, Miriam Rollin presented council with a petition signed by 94 Plover Drive landowners that was created in response to a March 15 Facebook post from Hovey, in which he wrote that “the fight for access to Duck is far from over” and stated its intention to have the city create additional parking along Plover Drive and provide public access to the beach there.

“Hovey – fresh off his recent sharp defeats in both the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court in his effort to gain beach access via Private Beach Access from Sand Dollar Shores – has now set its sights on Plover Drive for access to Duck’s Beach,” the petition read. “And several rental agencies and real estate companies operating in Duck have illegally claimed access to the public beach via Plover Drive…”

The petition refers to a complaint filed in 2019 by Hovey and his wife, Tanya, against the Sand Dollar Shores Homeowners’ Association. They argued that beach access in this subdivision was a matter of public trust. In 2020, however, a North Carolina appeals court ruled that access was private. Hovey appealed, but the North Carolina Supreme Court decided not to hear the case, leaving the Court of Appeals decision in effect.

The Plover Drive petition asked the city to ensure police enforcement of the parking ban on both sides and the full length of Plover Drive and to “dismiss any unlawful attempt by anyone who is not owner on Plover Drive…to exercise control over the private beach access easement.He also ordered rental companies to stop advertising Plover Drive access as an option for properties not located in the street.

Hovey, speaking in public comments at the April 6 meeting, said: “I had no idea there would be so much opposition to me using the beach that I used most of it. of my life on Plover Drive.” He also claimed that in 1976 Plover Drive was “very clearly and unambiguously ceded to the public”.

Hovey requested that council discuss the matter before “fifty years of parking [on the roadway] is completely closed. He also asked him to lobby the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow public access to the federal site beach. Prior to September 11, 2001, although not officially designated as public beach access, surfers used the parking area at the site, but since then security measures have prohibited this.

During the part for council discussion, Mayor Don Kingston said council put it on the agenda “because we…have been accused of saying we’ll discuss it at next meeting, and with court cases and everything going on, we never really had a discussion with the board.

As for Hovey’s claim, Kingston said, “The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals saying there was no public access to Duck, and if he wants to sue I don’t think the city has a role in that.”

The mayor said there would be internal discussions between the police chief and the city manager about whether “we really want to arrest people for trespassing. But we could certainly do it for other reasons such as disturbing the peace or anything along those lines.

Regarding parking violations, he added: “I don’t think we have the staff to enforce parking on every street if it’s not driven by complaints.”

The mayor also noted that public access to the field research facility is not a viable option due to the nature of the work being done at the site. City Manager Drew Havens, who said he had recent discussions with the Corps, confirmed, adding that he is prepared to pursue further if prompted, “but I can tell you what the response will be.”

Regarding the Plover Drive problem, Council member Tony Schiano added: ‘I’m not looking forward to sending people over there to arrest everyone who passes by. But I think people have a right to expect their private property rights to be protected by law enforcement… I think we have an obligation to do that.

Mayor Pro Tem Monica Thibodeau agreed with the comments and added that the biggest problem is that the town has grown and there are several streets in Duck that do not have access to the beach. .

“In other words, there are some communities, some of our neighbors, that have no way to get to the beach,” she said. “And so I think one thing we could do is encourage neighbors to talk to neighbors and see if there are things they can work out… I think it’s good for the neighborhood to let people cross your boardwalk to get to the public ocean. But you can’t tell people what to do.


Dare County, North Carolina

Dare County Visitor Center

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public meeting will be held by the Dare County Tourist Board and Dare County on the PARTF grant application for the walk at the Soundside event site (located in Nags Head) on Thursday, April 14, 2022 at 16. The meeting will be held at the Sarah Owens Welcome Center on Roanoke Island, One Visitors Center Circle, Manteo, NC 27954.

A virtual option for the meeting is available. Please contact the Council Clerk at [email protected] for the link.

Written comments on the draft can be submitted to [email protected]

All interested persons are invited to make written or oral comments at this time.


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