Carolina Beach holding public hearing on removing north end street parking

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A blocked off side street between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North in Carolina Beach after a recent storm. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
A side street between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North in Carolina Beach that was blocked off after an October storm. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

After months of reviewing options on adjusting traffic patterns in the north end of town, Carolina Beach is holding a public hearing during Tuesday night’s town council meeting regarding removing some street parking in that area.

Town officials are considering making 16 streets between Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North open to two-way traffic but off limits to parking. The changes would occur on streets from Pelican Lane near the marina to Salt Marsh Lane near the fishing pier.

On-street parking is currently allowed on all the streets, which range in width from 20 to 24 feet of pavement. When cars are parked on both sides, the streets narrow down to one passable lane, making them a public safety and traffic hazard. Concerns about emergency vehicles being able to access those streets are what prompted officials to consider the changes.

“It’s not about safety versus parking,” Mayor Dan Wilcox said in a meeting last October, when council members first heard three options for addressing the issue. “Safety is a must.”

At that meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the three options presented to council at that time. The traffic pattern officials have chosen to move forward with was the first one. The second was to eliminate all on-street parking and make all the streets one-way, with the direction alternating by street. The third option was to adopt the one-way street pattern but designate 42 metered parking spots on certain streets, with the most spaces on Oyster Shell Lane (eight) and Starfish Lane (seven).

The two other options were eliminated over concerns about creating more one-way streets.

“When you say, ‘one-way street,’ people start cringing in this town,” Mayor Pro-Tem LeAnn Pierce said in October. “I think if we eliminate the parking, there’s no reason it can’t be a two-way street.”

Due to an amendment made in February 2003, the streets are already technically designated as one-way set in an alternating pattern, but for some reason that law has never been enforced. If approved at Tuesday night’s meeting, the ordinance would officially change them back to two-way streets.

Initially council members had concerns about residents who had no off-street parking, but after staff conducted a survey, they found that only one home, on Sailfish Lane, was without parking accommodations. The town has agreed to mark off a three-foot space in front of the house marked specifically for that residence. As the spot is 62 feet from Canal Drive, there is enough space for the turning radius of a large emergency vehicle and it’s therefore not a safety hazard.

The public hearing will be held during town council’s Tuesday night meeting in their chamber room at Carolina Beach Town Hall. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. The full agenda can be found here.

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