A sign that may no longer be valid. A 2/14 ruling gives public access to the beach in Duck.

A sign that may no longer be valid. A 2/14 ruling gives public access to the beach in Duck.

The big news on the Outer Banks is a long simmering dispute over whether there should be public access allowed to the beach in Duck has had its day in court. And it looks as though there may be changes coming.

First—a bit of background…

All North Carolina beaches are public, but access is not. In a number of places, Currituck County, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, parking lots and designated public areas give access to the beach.

Crossing to the beach in between those public access points is trespassing. When you are on the beach, that’s public land. The land bordering the beach, is not necessarily public land.

What the lawsuit is about is the longstanding belief by Bob Hovey, owner of Duck Village Outfitters, that the original Dare County plats for a number of the developments created 30 or 40 years ago showed public access to the beach.

What seems to have happened is when the developers started building they marked property lines through the public access and created continuous beachfront properties. The developers then built roads to the property lines, but did not leave any areas for the public to get to the beach.

The roads were subsequently turned over to NCDOT, which is a standard practice.

What the Ruling Means

In his December 14 ruling, Judge Lamott Wiggins wrote,  “The “8’ pedestrian beach access easement…is an easement dedicated to the general public for the purpose of providing pedestrian access to the Atlantic Ocean beach held in the public trust by the State of North Carolina and is now in the jurisdiction of the Town of Duck.”

If this ruling stands, and it will probably be appealed, it will certainly change some things in Duck, a town that has never had public access to its beaches.

The ruling, however, only applies to the Sea Breeze Access.

The beaches are beautiful on the Outer Banks. See why we’re in love with them. Make your reservation today with Brindley Beach Vacations.