On the beach: Currituck board looks at parking, tires, digging

By on October 18, 2017

Currituck’s beaches were top topics Monday. (Dee Langston)

The Currituck County Board of Commissioners examined beach-related issues Monday night, including parking on vacant lots in Carova, tire pressure and digging holes.

Several people spoke up during the public comment section of the meeting, alarmed after hearing that some property owners had been cited for leaving vehicles parked on vacant lots — that they own — in the off-road area of the county’s beaches.

Knotts Island resident Kelly Peters said her family owned a canal-side lot in Carova, and leaving a vehicle parked there meant they were able to cross the sound by boat, tie up and drive the vehicle to the beach, rather than endure the traffic on N.C. 12.

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“To hear what’s happening down there concerns me,” said Charlie Copeland, who co-owns a Carova lot with Virginia Beach resident George Barlow.

“We bought a place so we’d have a place to tie up, legally, and leave a vehicle,” Barlow said.

Wiley Melton, a retired carpenter who supplements his Social Security income by working for an off-road tour company, said he believes issuing citations to people who leave vehicles parked on their own lots is unconstitutional.

“As long as it’s registered and legal and you’re paying your taxes, I feel that you have no right to do what you’re doing,” he said. “If you stop me from parking my vehicle on my property, I’m not going to be able to got to work.”

County Manager Dan Scanlon said Carova property owners won’t be required to pay fines for the citations, and the commissioners will soon take up changes to the county’s ordinances that will allow folks like Peters and Melton to continue parking on their lots.

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Currently, the county’s ordinances don’t allow parking as a primary use in areas zoned for single-family homes.

Fran Hamilton, a full-time resident of Corolla, also spoke, but she was concerned about people letting the air out of their tires before driving on the beach.

“The situation of people airing down in our neighborhood is very disturbing,” she said.

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Following the public comments and other agenda items, the tire pressure issue was revisited, and commissioners voted unanimously to revise an ordinance approved in May that regulates airing down tires for more traction on the beach.

The revised ordinance is intended to clarify what sort of vehicles may be driven on the beach after tire pressure is reduced, Scanlon said.  It now says a vehicle must have tires with a PSI, or pounds per square inch, of 20, if it has a curb weight of less 5,000 pounds.

Vehicles that weigh more than 5,000 pounds don’t have a PSI spelled out but must maintain enough air in their tires to allow for safe operation of the vehicle. The changes in the law will got into effect May 1, to give the county time to educate the public, post signs designating where drivers may let some of the air out of their tires and add stations to re-inflate.

Although the county isn’t required to create air-up stations, they may do so for the convenience of the public, County Attorney Ike McRee said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, under-inflated tires have a higher risk of damage and failure. Not only will they wear out faster if under-inflated, but faster deterioration can also lead to reduced control of a vehicle, tire blowouts, and crashes. (DMV.org)

Ultimately, the commissioners decided that it’s OK, for now, to park vehicles on vacant lots owned by Corolla property owners, and it’s OK to air-down your tires.

What isn’t OK is digging holes on the beach, unless you intend to fill them back in. Following the lead of other beach communities, the board unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting digging large holes in the sand and leaving them unattended for more than an hour.

McRee said the sheriff’s department was concerned about manpower to patrol the beach for holes. McRee suggested that lifeguards and other county part-time workers be trained and certified as “hole-patrol” officers, and then allowing them to enforce the ordinance.

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Comments

Bud

October 21, 2017 7:15 am

All that is needed is less tourists, problems solved!

Community Monitors

October 19, 2017 9:18 am

Yes the holes are dangerous, but if unattended for an hour how does beach patrol “enforce” unless that means they fill in the holes.
AND
If we can have citizen hole patrol officers, why can’t we have citizen speed control offices? Or parking on side of the road officers? Or riding a bicycle in dark without lights officers, and of course Fireworks patrol officers.

Trained community patrol has worked in other areas as has auxiliary police programs.

Jacquie

October 19, 2017 9:13 am

My biggest complaint is the trucks and other vehicles flying through the roads filled with water and digging in the mud holes and making the holes deeper so it makes it hard to get to our properties. We sat on our pourch about a month ago and watch this little white car must have been going at least 50 miles through the water hole in front of our house, she hit so hard she had to come back to get her license plate that got knocked off plus what ever else came off in the mud hole. They have no respect for property owners, they know they can come to Carova in groups and go mudding without any consequences

Wm. Griggs III

October 18, 2017 8:44 pm

I fail to understand why someone who lives in Corolla would find people “airing down” very disturbing. It is what’s been done to drive effectively on the beach since way before I was born and I’m 63 now.

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