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

  • jackie harris

    If the Sheriff says no additional personnel why more vehicles?? every Dep. has one now?? Keep going Currituck and you can Kill the Golden Goose that supports your County now! Hard to believe that they came up with this plan in 6 weeks the way Goverment works. The big question will be is it discrimination toward visitors by not charging residense??

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 9:42 am
  • Mark Benedix

    As a visitor I don’t mind paying the $50, what I do mind is the hassle of getting the permit. Why not implement a rule that says if you’ve already watched the video while getting a permit for the Cape Hatteras National seashore then you don’t have to watch it again? Then make the pass available online. Make this easy for those of us renting homes in the area Hopefully this will stop the geniuses with AWD mini vans from getting stuck on the beach.

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 12:01 pm
  • A property owner in Corolla

    I’m sure the board of commissioners will come up with a great plan… They have demonstrated their talent for this type of thing over and over again. I really love the idea of no online permits–nothing like that in person service. Will it be cash only as well? Better yet.. please make sure that once folks pay, they have to wait 2-4 weeks to mail the permit. If you didn’t already know, this is sarcasm.

    They need to outsource this to a company that can offer an online system or find a way to offer the process online. Even NPS learned that it works much better and requires less resources to offer Hatteras orv permits online.

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 12:18 pm
  • Mark Benedix

    Another consideration: It’s almost impossible to drive in that area on a weekend day because of the enormous amount of traffic. Have you thought about the traffic situation at the county’s visitor centers in Moyock and Corolla and the wait time to watch the video and get the needed permit? What you’ll mostly succeed in doing is sending tourist elsewhere for summer vacation. Is that what you want?

    This plan has disaster written all over it.

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 12:23 pm
  • Dylan

    I’m all for less tourists so this sounds like a great idea! Toll gates on the beach!

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 1:17 pm
  • tobx

    Stop allowing “hotels” disguised as single family residents being built on the beach. That is one way to limit traffic.

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 1:17 pm
  • mike paynter

    I had a campsite down in Hatteras before they started charging and after they started charging to drive on a beach i have been driving on all my life i stopped going and sold the trailer. The same applies to this area. I am a resident of Currituck county and honestly believe that a fee to drive on the beach is not going to generate that much revenue nor do i understand what the county does on the beach to require this revenue. The area is not set up like Hatteras where you can park near the water and not worry about crossing traffic to get to the water and be able to fish without crossing traffic. You want to do something change that situation!

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 2:05 pm
  • Fishtales

    The goal is to stop the day trippers. We don’t spend the money that the vacationers do. How dare those worthless native folks enjoy the beach!

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 8:12 pm
  • sortudo

    Toll Gates at the ramp is the perfect solution! EZ Pass would work very well also. Get money from all the automobiles!
    Even NJ and NY don’t charge for parking on their beaches! Will we be charging for beaches next?! Beach passes, Yes!
    When are the boardwalks coming?! The Yanks are coming!

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 8:40 pm
  • YiLi

    Attach this and its enforcement to occupancy regulations for each rental home and prohibit hotels disguised as rental homes and maybe a dent in the issue.
    Just about every rental company turns a blind eye to occupancy and vehicle parking quotas for homes, especially in Currituck OBX.

    Most issues facing Currituck OBX are impacted by enforcement whether speeding, parking on community roads, fires in beach, fireworks or now a parking sticker. BOC needs to decide and take a stand on issues then work with sheriff and other county agencies to implement
    In last 25+ years most “remedies” gave been sound bites
    And permit revenue and fines attached to summonses (hopefully point violation that can be collected) hopefully will fund paid professional fire services and at least an extra deputy tour both on and off season. Or support an auxiliary force to ensure quality of life compliance for residents and visitors

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 8:41 pm
  • Robin

    “This isn’t going to prevent people with four-wheel drives from driving up to Carova for sightseeing,” board Chairman Bobby Hanig said Monday.
    How does he figure that? They arent going to be issuing any 1 day passes so yes it does prevent people from sightseeing. Some people that live here like to take a ride up north and I for one cant justify a $50 permit for a couple of hours on the beach. I refuse to pay for a permit to ride on the national seashore in Hatteras . Never have never will and I will not pay money to go onto a PUBLIC beach. I guess Currituck county hasnt taken in account how many day trippers come here and how much money they spend at all the stores on the way in and out during that one day. I’m pretty sure there will be a lawsuit involved before its all said and done.

    Tuesday, Feb 6 @ 9:41 pm
  • Aaron

    It’s time to pave a toll road to Corova and the extreme north!

    4 Permits Per property owner… transferable… sounds like there are gonna be more permitted cars under this program!

    This is why we bought 80 miles south!

    The person who posted on the “hotels disguised as houses” hit the nail
    On the head.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 5:44 am
  • Bud

    Something has to be done, the place is being desecrated and destroyed.
    Those of us in the know stay far away from Currituck beaches in the summer.
    Here on Hatteras we still have some empty beaches to enjoy all summer.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 6:47 am
  • Mike

    The fee we pay for the privilege too drive on our southern beaches should cover this and all beaches in NC .IMHO

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 6:57 am
  • Mr Lee

    Hey there my fellow county resident isn’t it funny that you never heard a word from the property management company’s with the driving rule change that so adversely effect the residents and property owners of Currituck county. But now with possibility of an adverse effect on the tourist the property management are speaking right up. Then to say they want to deliver the best of quality of life for our residents and property owners is untrue. Sounds like it is all about the money. Then to say they appreciate a period of due diligence . Where was the good period of due diligence on the decision to change the rule. The vote was made weeks before it was scheduled to be voted on to avoid more public comment. Some of you will remember commissioner saying he lives in the 4×4 area and he would be keeping a close eye on the situation. Well guess what folks it’s been told he and his family are moving down to corolla. I would guess the avoid the mess he has created.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 7:27 am
  • Drama-free zone

    Why is everything always an “us” versus “them?” Currituck County made the conscious decision more years ago than most people reading or commenting even knew where Currituck County was located, to allow what they now have in Currituck – a thriving, desirable tourist industry – a tax base that allows them to operate in the black. How many vacation seasons have come and gone where residents (who enjoy low taxes because of the healthy tax base and economy) are somewhat inconvenienced and have to make a few changes to their lifestyle to avoid traffic for maybe 6-8 weeks – and then it all goes away. (I live two miles into Currituck and do not try to make a bridge crossing between 10 and 4 on those Saturdays. No big deal with planning. My taxes on my home and personal property are less than $1000 a year. That’s a big deal.) Commissioners, we have seen before when happens when you act without due diligence. Please take a closer look at the potential ramifications of what you are proposing. And, yes, the fact that people have paid a lot of money in most cases for their rental accommodations and will be “hit” again for a previously undisclosed fee will be a problem – for the many locals who work in the rental industry. Waiting until next year and having a viable system in place (if the research shows it is actually warranted) will allow the information to be included by the rental companies.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 8:07 am
  • JimH

    Currituck (and Dare) have no interest in enforcing any laws or ordinances for fear of running of the a nickel of tourist money pot. There are so many rules that are not currently forced why bother making up new ones that will not be enforced either. @Mike they are not your beaches as they belong to the federal government who was forced into implementing the fee. The northern beaches are controlled by NC so there is no comparison between the two.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 8:34 am
  • Part Time OBXer

    The only difference here between Hatteras NPS and Corolla is you don’t need to drive on the beach to get to a rental or home on Hatteras – you HAVE to drive on the beach to get to Corolla, there is no other way to get there!

    So the question really should be, is the pass to actually PARK on the beach to enjoy the ocean for the day, or to DRIVE on the beach to get to your house or rental? If its to PARK, then have at it! If its to DRIVE on the beach, then this is an entirely different discussion.

    That would be no good for anyone – residents, renters, or day trippers. But, its two completely different discussions. Lets get some clarity on that before any further unnecessary government official bashing.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 10:06 am
  • Collaboration

    I suggest due diligence include working with traffic engineers and learning how other areas with Atlantic beach driving handle volume and safety.
    Several have their regulations and ordinances available online. Collaboration with a cross section of these areas might provide an enhanced view of the problem and solution.

    In addition, designated parking areas can corral the vehicles and keep lanes open, and some out of the box thinking might consider alternate day passes. Back when we had gas lines, people grumbled, but alternate day access cut the long lines and eventually people planned and it became the new normal.

    Tourists anywhere seem to put up with various kinds of inconvenience, if the overall experience is good and cost effective. However, here after rental rates soared, many visitors can’t afford a week’s rental and need to double and triple families into a house, and they became more demanding looking for the value in their investment.

    Maybe it is time to review the big picture to balance resident, tourist and local business needs. A strong business is not sustained on high profits alone. And addressing one issue at a time often evokes opposition, and spends money on “consultants” that could be invested in community services.

    How about a non-political task force including business, residents, owners, tourist and outside professional entities.

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 10:53 am
  • Dylan

    The very first sentence of the article indicates that the fee is for parking on the beach, not driving. I assume that Sam got this detail correct.

    But why the 10 day permit period when most rentals are 7 day periods?

    Wednesday, Feb 7 @ 1:00 pm
  • 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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