On some beaches, a tent left overnight is litter
Officials in Duck and Southern Shores say ordinances passed in recent years are beginning to curb what was becoming a common practice.
On Monday, Currituck County also tightened up its ordinance.
Tent skeletons being abandoned on the beach have caused a number of problems, said Southern Shores Town Manager Peter Rascoe. Visitors often would purchase inexpensive canopies and leave them, essentially as litter, once their vacation was over.
They also limited and travel space for lifeguard and emergency vehicles.
“Many people were leaving their tent skeletons up and thought they could keep them there and that would be their spot for the rest of the week,” Rascoe said.
The Southern Shores ordinance, which was enacted two years ago, states that any unattended personal property left on the beach after 5 p.m. will be declared abandoned and removed.
“The key word is unattended,” Rascoe said. “People can stay out all night long if they want to, but after 5 p.m., if it is clearly unattended, it is subject to be removed.”
It was a challenge initially because people weren’t aware of the new restriction, Rascoe said. But now that word as gotten out, compliance has improved.
“This year, it has worked pretty well and we are out there basically everyday checking,” he said.
Southern Shores was the second municipality to enact such an ordinance. The Town of Duck in 2009 adopted a similar law where unattended items must be removed at 7 p.m. Duck’s ordinance also prohibits tents from being tied together and limits tent size to 12 by 12 feet.
Town Manager Christopher Layton said tents were often being tied together, which prevented lifeguards on ATVs from moving up and down the beach efficiently.
“If there was a wall of tents, guards couldn’t get through,” he said.
Layton said compliance has been very good this year.
“We only have a handful or so now that are being left up. Before, out of 400 tents, about 100 were being left up,” he said.
Currituck County officials have also moved to tackle the problem in Corolla. The county has an ordinance in place that prohibits leaving personal property on the beach from sunset to sunrise, but does not go as far as Duck and Southern Shores in that it doesn’t provide for removal of the items.
County Attorney Ike McRee said officials continue to receive complaints from citizen groups about the problem. On Monday, the Board of Commissioners approved on second reading more stringent amendments to their ordinance similar to Duck’s.
The towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk do not have ordinance addressing beach cabanas or tents. Nags Head Public Information Officer Roberta Thuman said that with the wider beaches in town from the beach nourishment project, the use of the tents has not been a problem.
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