Thursday, May 26, 2022

Carolina Beach moves to take Freeman Park land by eminent domain

The Town of Carolina Beach has begun the process of eminent domain to acquire land owned by LLCs near Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAROLINA BEACH)
The Town of Carolina Beach has begun the process of eminent domain to acquire land owned by LLCs near Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAROLINA BEACH)

CAROLINA BEACH — Carolina Beach’s Town Council has begun the process of notifying property owners of its intent to acquire eight parcels of land currently owned by corporations near Freeman Park – either through voluntary sales or through eminent domain.

Land at Freeman Park has steadily moved from the hands of private land owners to corporations over the past few years.

Recent events have led to the corporations and town to clash in terms of who owns what, and the public access to the dry sand beach.

At its latest Town Council meeting, Carolina Beach elected officials voted to purchase a piece of property located at the north end of Freeman Park for $500,000. Now, the town is looking to obtain eight more pieces of land at the park, but the acquisition might not be as easy as the purchase of the land from a private owner.

On Feb. 27, Town Council met in a closed session to discuss a resolution that would authorize the town to obtain title to the land either by voluntary acquisition or condemnation.

The resolution was passed after closed session, but the information was not made public until the meeting minutes were released.

On Tuesday, council once again entered closed session, a right provided to governing bodies by state statutes when discussing certain issues, including the acquisition of property.

Once council reconvened, Council Member Steve Shuttleworth made a motion to approve items discussed during the closed session.

The motion, according to Town Clerk Kim Ward was to, “Direct the Attorney to move forward with mailing the Notice of Intent as authorized by Resolution 18-2178 that was approved on February 27,2018.”

It reads, in part: “The Town of Carolina Beach desires to explore acquisition and proceed to acquire title to eight separate real property tracts in the vicinity of Freeman Park …”

It passed unanimously.

According to Town Manager Michael Cramer there are several reasons the town can claim eminent domain and they are listed in the resolution.

The resolution states, “North Carolina General Statutes authorizes each municipality to acquire by purchase, gift or condemnation any property, either inside or outside its boundaries, for the public purposes that include, but are not limited to, establishing, enlarging, or improving parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities; engaging in or participating with other governmental entities in acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, extending, or otherwise building or improving beach erosion control or flood and hurricane protection works, including, but not limited to, the acquisition of any property that may be required as a source for beach renourishment, establishing access for the public to public trust beaches and appurtenant parking areas; and for any other public purpose authorized by law.”

Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson declined to comment, saying it had been suggested by the town’s attorney that all comments on the matter be deferred to Cramer.

Cramer said the land has not yet been appraised by the town.

See more:

Carolina Beach considering purchase of land at Freeman Park to preserve greenspace

Freeman Park property now in the hands of LLCs. Is development in the future?

Carolina Beach closes Freeman Park, citing work being done by LLC owners

State calls actions taken at Freeman Park by property owners “unauthorized”

Resolution 18-2178 Freeman Park Acquisition by Michael James on Scribd

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