Sunday, February 5, 2023

Freeman Park property owners appealing town’s removal of fencing

It's the latest development in the contentious relationship between the town of Carolina Beach and Freeman Beach, LLC, the private owners of property along Freeman Park.

The rope fencing placed along Freeman Park as of noon Monday had yet to be removed (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)
The rope fencing placed along Freeman Park by landowners was removed by the town, now the owners are appealing the claims of violations through the Board of Adjustment (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

CAROLINA BEACH — Freeman Park property owners are appealing the removal of fencing they installed earlier this year.

In February, Freeman Park owners erected temporary fencing to protect newly planted sea oats. The town of Carolina Beach eventually deemed that fencing illegal and removed it after a week of closure at the park.

Now, property owners are taking their complaints to the town’s Board of Adjustment.

According to the board’s agenda packet and narrative, “The morning of February 14th representatives from the property owner, Freeman Beach LLC, started installing post with rope connecting them together and planting beach grass approximate 193,900 linear feet in the public trust dry sand beach located in Freeman Park. The posts were installed 50-150-feet east of the toe of the frontal dune approximately 10-feet apart.

“The property owners did not apply for any permits or consult with the town prior to placing the obstructions on the beach. The town immediately alerted the Division of Coastal Management who is the State agency responsible for protecting, conserving and managing North Carolina’s beaches. They were not aware of and had not authorized the activity taken place.”

The board will hear from representatives of Freeman Park LLC Monday, 6 p.m. in Town Council Chambers who are appealing the town’s decision to remove the fence posts, and the notice of violation from February.

Related: Interactive timeline of events at Freeman Park

Cllifton Hester, the lawyer representing Freeman Beach LLC, is claiming the town’s removal of the posts is not authorized by the town’s ordinances and that it was not required to protect the public trust area of the beach.

But the town sees things differently.

According to town regulations, “No person shall make any … hole in, along, across, or under any…other public place for the purpose of laying or placing therein any pipe, wires, or poles for any purpose, unless a written permit therefor has been issued by the Building Inspector.”

The appeal is just another step in the tumultuous relationship between the town and property owners. In March the town sent letters of intent to the property owners notifying them of the town’s intent to acquire their land, either voluntarily or through eminent domain.

1. Appeal Application by Michael James on Scribd

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