CAROLINA BEACH — It has only been a couple of days since the Town of Carolina Beach announced the temporary closure of Freeman Park thanks to the activities of private landowners. Now, the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management has issued an official ultimatum to property owners.
On Thursday, District Manager of NCDCM Debra Wilson issued a notice of failure to apply for CAMA permit to Don Formyduval, a representative of several of the LLCs that own private property at the north end of Freeman Park.
On Wednesday, Town Manager Michael Cramer notified residents in a letter that private landowners had planted beach grass and installed ropes and posts on previously public portions of the beach. The state has now told property owners they have until Monday to remove the post and rope fencing.
According to Wilson, “No person may undertake development in a designated Area of Environmental Concern (AEC) without first obtaining a permit or authorization in accordance with the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality … all development activities carried out in an AEC must be performed in accordance with the permitted plan of development and as described in the CAMA permit.”
The nearly 2,000 feet of rope fencing that was installed by property owners varied in width from the toe of the dunes extending seaward, from 50-feet up to 150-feet, she said, making the total area encompassed 193,800-square-feet of dry sand beach, about four and a half acres.
The development was deemed inconsistent with several state rules including:
- Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Area: Exceptions: In all cases this development shall be permitted only if it is landward of the vegetation line
- It is the objective of the Coastal Resources Commission to protect present common-law and statutory public rights of access to and use of the lands and waters of the coastal area
- Established common law and statutory public rights of access to and use of public trust lands and waters in the ocean hazard areas shall not be eliminated or restricted. Development shall not encroach upon public accessways, nor shall it limit the intended use of accessways
- Activities to establish dunes shall be allowed so long as the following conditions are met: Existing primary and frontal dunes shall not, except for beach nourishment and emergency situations, be broadened or extended in an oceanward direction
Wilson told Formyduval that no further work would be allowed with a CAMA permit and any violations could lead to more penalties.
Town Manager Michael Cramer told Town Council in an email that he plans to reopen the park as soon as the posts have been removed.
“The letter supports our assessment of the situation and our interpretation of state law and the CAMA Rules. Town Attorney Noel Fox and I believe that it would be in the towns best interest to keep the park closed to vehicle traffic until the obstacles have been removed. I will keep a close eye on the park and at the earliest time I will reopen the park to vehicle traffic. Please keep in mind that the beach is still open to the walking public,” Cramer said.
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