Earlier this week, new developments on the beach at Freeman Park appeared overnight. Carolina Beach town staff claimed they were caught off guard, but there has been speculation over the private property in the area for months — at least since the recent candidates’ forum, when former Town Councilman Gary Doetsch said “someone” was trying to develop the land near the park.
The land around the beach at Freeman Park, once owned by the Freeman family, has been turned over to private LLCs over the last year. Emails suggest that the unknown owners of the land have been concerned, at least since 2016, about the potential to develop the land.
In December 2016, Clifton Hester, a lawyer representing the LLCs sent a letter to then-Mayor Dan Wilcox. The letter expressed concerns from land owners regarding camping on the beach, and the diminishing value the camping has had on the property – including its viability of becoming a “beach resort.” Those concerns shed new light on efforts made by the town council to add new restrictions to the beach. READ MORE
A few months after Town Council suggested new regulations at Freeman Park, it became clear that the Freeman family – who traditionally receive free season passes to the park – was no longer the legal owners of the land. READ MORE
Less than three weeks later, new developments – including fencing and sea oats planted on the public beach – appeared overnight. The move shrank the publicly accessible portion of the beach by four and a half acres. READ MORE
Though the developments were built on private property, the land is considered the public “right of way,” by the state. While North Carolina’s division of Coastal Management told representatives for the LLCs they had just days to take down fencing, the evidence suggests this may part of a long-term plan to reshape the land around the park. READ MORE
On Thursday, the state 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. For now, it looks like the park may reopen early week, but it remains to be seen what the LLCs will do next. READ MORE