Pay-to-park under consideration for Currituck beaches

By on February 6, 2018

The beach is a public right-of-way. (Coastal Review Online)

The Currituck County Board of Commissioners appears on the verge of implementing a plan requiring a pass to park on the county’s beaches by as early as this May.

“This isn’t going to prevent people with four-wheel drives from driving up to Carova for sightseeing,” board Chairman Bobby Hanig said Monday.

“The end goal is to limit the amount of people in the 4×4 area, and somehow to eliminate congestion on the beach.”

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Reaction from those in tourism-related businesses has been guarded, as the details of the proposal are just getting out and are still being worked through.

“We obviously support our elected officials, because we live and work here, in trying to deliver the best quality of life to our residents and property owners,” said Clark Twiddy of Twiddy and Co., which manages a number of vacation rental properties on the Currituck Banks.

“Those of us in the tourism industry always appreciate a good period of due diligence and a chance to participate in policy formulation that impacts our visitors’ experience.”

Under the proposal, which Hanig said they hope to have approved by March, visitors would have to pay $50 for a 10-day parking pass or $150 for a permit that would be valid for a calendar year.

No single-day passes would be available, and the rates are not yet finalized, Hanig said. Currituck County residents and anyone who owns property in the county would be given a pass at no charge. Online purchases would not be available, but the idea is being discussed.

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The passes would be available only at the county’s visitor centers in Moyock and Corolla and require watching a video before purchase, similar to what is required to buy an ORV permit in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

“This is about educating beach drivers, where to air up and air down, what to do and what not to do,” Hanig said.

Visitors checking in on Saturday or Sunday would have to make another stop, adding to an already long day of travel and more hassles, according to several members of the rental industry.

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Others said they are already dreading the reactions of renters who have paid in full for their vacations this summer, then having to be hit with another bill of $200 to just reach their house if there were four vehicles staying there.

One part of the proposed regulations is that the passes could not be transferable from vehicle-to-vehicle.

Hanig added some of the details still need to be worked out by the county’s staff, and any ordinance changes are still in the drafting stage, but they could be ready for consideration as early as the Feb. 19 meeting.

If all goes as planned, the new rules would be implemented starting May 1, Hanig said.

Hanig and Commissioner Bob White, a Corolla resident, spearheaded the effort to find another way to cut down on the amount of vehicles and other problems on the Currituck beaches.

This past year, the county passed a rule requiring drivers to drop the pressure in their tires to below 20 p.s.i. before driving on the beach to reduce problems of the ORV ramps being torn up and vehicles getting stuck.

A ban on digging large holes by beachgoers was also implemented to prevent vehicles on the beach at night from being damaged and after recent incidents elsewhere of injuries or deaths from collapsing holes.

Traffic is also banned from the hard-packed sand along a four-mile stretch between the North Beach Ramp and Milepost 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., beginning the Friday before Memorial Day until Labor Day.

That change is intended to keep the foreshore, or the beach closest to the ocean, safe for beach-goers by pushing traffic up to the toe of the dune line. It doesn’t change the rules for parking, which will remain in the center of the beach.

The parking pass was initially brought up at a work session before the board’s Jan. 2 meeting.

Discussion at the time centered on requiring the pass for access to all Currituck beaches, not just the 4-wheel-drive area, passes would be linked to specific vehicles with no limits for county residents, while non-resident property owners could get up to four passes at no charge.

Handling those engaged in contracting, fishing or hunting activities was also talked about during the work session, along with guest passes and off-road vehicle rentals.

It was suggested that rental ORVs be charged a fee and permitted annually in the same manner as horse tour vehicles.

Further discussion took place at the commissioners’ annual retreat on Jan. 26, including talks about issuing passes just to drive on the beach. But Hanig said it would have been more costly to implement and commissioners have circled back to just working on a parking pass system.

The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for enforcing the permits. Deputies have been using open, “side-by-side” vehicles to travel the beach during the day as part of their patrols.

“It’s going to be a longer day for deputies working the beach, so we have set aside money for additional regular vehicles for patrols,” Hanig said.

He added that Sheriff Susan Johnson said her department would not require additional staff to enforce the permits.

Comments

  • mike paynter

    You know i just had a great idea maybe they should implement this as rapidly as they have built the bridge from Aydlett to the north end. By that time i will be dead and it wont matter to me.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 2:15 pm
  • xobx

    A road to Carova is long overdue. Stop the madness and put in a hard road. It will solve almost all of the issues.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 3:27 pm
  • Spoonyrae

    Fix the roads behind the dunes, and put the traffic where it belongs and let the beachgoers have the beach, where they belong. A small minority of my neighbors have been trying to make this their exclusive beach for years. They refuse to allow the roads to be fixed which is why we have our traffic problem up here, and now they are about to get their wish.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 4:28 pm
  • beachbum

    I have an idea Bob. Shut down your 3 tour companies that are speeding up and down the beach all day long.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 7:25 pm
  • Janet

    We are an extended family (our children are married to each other) that comes to Carova in Nov. to fish and spend time together as a family. We can barely afford the off-season rates, but we will pay the for the peace and quiet we receive that time of year. I don’t fish, so I assume I won’t need a pass for my car, since I only drive to/from the rental house? And our 3 families will be driving together with a wee one….so you are going to make us wait extra time to watch a video before we get a permit? Will you offer babysitting services while our grandchild screams his head off while we are trying to watch a video? And can we get a full refund on the property we’ve rented because we didn’t agree to these fees when we signed the contract? I moved to NC 40 years ago and fell in love with this place. I love both the mountains and the ocean, and visit both regularly. I’m from the gulf coast and I can’t fathom that anyone would feel it’s their right to restrict our citizens from experiencing our beautiful beaches—even for a day. It’s a given that if you live in the mountains near the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will experience traffic congestion in October. And the same holds true if you live on our beaches in the summer. OUR beaches—the collective, since I am a NC citizen. If you insist on these fees, allow us to purchase online. Waiting in line to watch a video with tired, screaming kids in tow is a dumb idea. And offer discounts on the fee for families renting a house together…

    Thursday, Feb 8 @ 4:01 am
  • Legal Question

    I thought the oceanfront lots extended all the way to the water. Are all these rules legal given that they’re being enforced on privately owned land? I may be wrong. Does Currituck own the beach? Can the government collect fees for activities on land it doesn’t own or lease? Just curious about the legal situation.

    Thursday, Feb 8 @ 6:58 am
  • Jay

    Looks like no more visits to Currituck County!

    Thursday, Feb 8 @ 7:40 am
  • Kar

    I think some kind of pass would be awesome!
    It is difficult and not always safe with kids to have the amount of traffic there is in the summer tearing up our beautiful beaches
    In response to the idea of a paved road-that would defeat the reason we live in the area
    We moved here because of the natural feeling as is why people vacation in the off road if they wanted pavement they would vacation in other areas
    On a side note the amount of tours each day and lack of enforcement of people riding all over the restricted areas in summer is getting out of control and ruining the terrain

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 3:37 am
  • Bud

    Enact a moratorium on yankees and most all the issues and problems will be solved. Not discrimination, just facts.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 6:48 am
  • Bud

    Oceanfront lots do not extend to water.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 6:49 am
  • sortudo

    Bud, well said.
    These Northerners are responsible for our uncontrolled development. We need to get woke!

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 6:10 pm
  • John

    Little by little. No personal watercraft. No fourwheelers. No beach buggies without tags and inspection. No fishing without license. Before long you won’t be able to drink a beer on the beach. Watch! Folks move to the laid back Outer Banks and begin trying to turn it into the miserable place they were trying to escape! Don’t let them regulate away what makes this part of the world so different and special. Think folks.

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 7:40 pm
  • Sam Walker

    We manually moderate comments, and try to get to them as soon as we can. We also reserve the right not to approve comments due to language and other factors. Thanks for participating.

    Saturday, Feb 10 @ 10:47 am
  • obxsandsurfer

    Is this year round or seasonal? I have heard it may be in effect from 5/28/2018 till 9/03/2018 Anyone know?

    Friday, Feb 9 @ 7:45 pm
  • rexcraigo

    Bud,

    You are a fool.

    Wednesday, Feb 14 @ 11:01 am
  • Confused

    We’re having this comment discussion while The Advance has a story about BOC approving request for an inn to increase 10-12 units, “bigger bang for the buck”
    Doesn’t anyone on the board see the connection between seasonal development to beach and general overcrowding?
    Would have been a bright spot had Hadley considered developing 12 units of year round affordable housing for workers.
    Same article mentions developing a retirement residential facility- yep in Corolla with challenged access to emergency and other healthcare, no paid fire services, no senior services -classes, meals, visitors, transportation, etc.

    Wednesday, Feb 14 @ 8:47 pm
  • carol mcclanahan

    BOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thursday, Feb 15 @ 8:34 pm

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