Currituck board to consider beach parking permits tonight

By on February 19, 2018

Beachgoers sit just a few feet from passing vehicles. (Dee Langston)

Currituck County commissioners are scheduled to consider a plan at their meeting Monday night to require parking passes for vehicles on the county’s beaches starting May 1.

“We are simply trying to get control of an overcrowded, unsafe situation,” said board Chairman Bobby Hanig.

The new ordinance will require a unanimous vote to pass on its first reading. If not, the proposal could be brought up again at the March 5 meeting and would only need a simple majority.


Hanig said Currituck has the only beaches in North Carolina, and possibly the entire East Coast, that do not require a permit to drive or park a vehicle.

Opposition to the proposal has come from a some residents and visitors, along with groups that have fought for years to keep access open to the beaches in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

“There has been little disclosure of this proposed action,” said N.C. Beach Buggy Association President Bill Smith, accusing county leaders of crafting it behind closed doors.

County Commissioner Paul Beaumont said that more than 100 people attended a community meeting in Carova Beach Saturday night, and after hearing the updated proposal, there was no opposition expressed to limiting vehicles on the beach.

Since being brought up initially during a work session before the Jan. 2 commissioners meeting, and then another discussion at a Jan. 24 retreat, the proposed ordinance was not fully released until the board’s agenda packet was posted last week.


Rental companies have expressed concern about having little to no warning for their customers headed into the 2018 vacation season and not being included in the initial discussions.

Hanig rejectd claims that the county could not restrict access because the beach is a state right-of-way.

N.C. 12 terminates in the heart of Corolla village and the N.C. Department of Transportation-maintained road beyond that point, S.R. 1437, ends at the county’s North Beach Access Ramp.


There are no roads north of the ramp that are part of the NCDOT State Transportation System.

“By state statute, the county has the right to control traffic and parking on the beach strand,” Hanig said.

Under the proposal, all Currituck County residents and non-resident property owners could obtain an unlimited number of passes, free of charge, that must be assigned to a specific vehicle and are not transferable.

Owners of homes that are beyond the North Beach Access Ramp and are part of a rental program will be able to obtain up to two permits per house at no charge that could be used by renters.

“That won’t limit how many vehicles renters can have parked at their house during their stay, it will just mean they only have two permits to use if they park out on the beach,” Beaumont said.

Commercial fishermen, hunters, outdoor tour operators that have a valid county-issued licenses for their business and contractors that are working for the county or on projects such as beach restoration or walkways and decks to the beach, would be exempt.

And the passes would not be required of those who just want to sightsee in the four-wheel drive areas along and north of Corolla village.

“Folks are more than welcome to drive on our beaches, (and) can even stop and take pictures,” Hanig added. “If they are going to recreate, they will need to buy a pass.”

The text of the ordinance that will be discussed by commissioners Monday does not specify how much the permits will cost and where they can be obtained.

In a interview two weeks ago with The Outer Banks Voice, Hanig said visitors may be charged $50 for a 10-day parking pass or $150 for a permit that would be valid for a calendar year. Single-day passes would not be available.

“This is not a money-making venture,” Hanig said. “All monies collected will be used to cover the costs associated with maintaining and patrolling the beach.”

Commissioners last month approved using $111,000 from the occupancy tax fund to pay for regular vehicles for the Currituck Sherrif’s Office beach patrols that had been using open-air, side-by-side vehicles.

Previous discussion on distribution of the passes mentioned the county’s visitor centers in Moyock and Corolla and requiring watching a video before purchase, similar to what is required to buy an ORV permit in Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

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.

The county passed a rule last year 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.


  • sortudo

    Everyone is exempt then?
    Who is not exempt? I’m confused.
    Bring EZ PASS!!!!!!

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 10:02 am
  • sortudo

    Just read proposed ordinance.
    No movie watching necessary?
    Are service workers/construction workers exempt?

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 10:12 am
  • sortudo

    Any word on the MCC Bridge? If that is built then we will definitely need EZ PASS

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 10:13 am
  • Seal

    Whats next ? Toll booths on the ramps!!!

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 4:06 pm
  • Bob Woodburn

    Will keep my $ in KDH, pay to park on the beach, don’t think so.

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 6:42 pm
  • Ricky

    They say “passes would not be required of those who just want to sightsee in the four-wheel drive areas along and north of Corolla village.” so I can ride up and the beach sightseeing all day not watching where I’m going and that’s OK. I emailed Mr. Hanig and this was his response “Our beaches have become unsafe do to the overwhelming amount of traffic flooding them on a daily basis”. But I can’t drive a few miles up the beach, park for 6 hrs and then drive back. What causes more traffic? This is all about keeping day trippers away because we don’t spend $$$$$$$$

    Monday, Feb 19 @ 7:36 pm
  • Dawn H.

    This is not the solution to the problems. This is not rocket science, they need to have more officers patrolling to control the visitors or locals that may not be responsible while visiting & driving our beaches. I agree and have seen a lot of irresponsible driving to include speeding while children are playing in the sand within feet of the families. Along with the wild horses that they pose a danger to by driving erratically. This is a money making solution for the local politicians to line their pockets by charging a fee to drive on these beaches. Manipulation of the situation is all that it is. MORE patrol officers is what is needed on these beaches for everyone’s safety!!!

    Tuesday, Feb 20 @ 3:09 pm
  • Brenda O

    Aren’t the rental fees high enough for tourists? Now, we must pay extra to drive on the beach to see nature’s beauty? I love the OBX but each year I vacation here, it gets more expensive. I have spent less vacationing in Hawaii. Rental homes have really jumped in price and now this. Gulf Shores is looking better each day. Go ahead, OBX, keep adding extra fees for everything, and soon, no one will come!

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 8:02 pm
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