Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Freeman Park property owners demand jury trial to block Carolina Beach access for beach renourishment

Carolina Beach initially threatened to use eminent domain the acquire all private land around Freeman Park, but later rescinded the idea, opting instead for temporary use to help renourish the beach --- but private LLCs are contesting that in court.

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 was installed by private landowners and marked the beginning of the battle for Freeman Park between the town and private citizens (Port City Daily photo/MICHAEL PRAATS)

CAROLINA BEACH — The relationship between the Town of Carolina Beach and the property owners of land surrounding Freeman Park is strained, to say the least; now, it appears the town will be heading to trial to let a jury decide the fate of the property in question.

While tensions might have been brewing between the two entities for some time, things came to a head in February of this year when representatives of the LLCs that own the property installed sea oats and rope fencing on the beach.

The move prompted the town to issue a cease and desist to the owners and removed the poles from the sand.

After more back and forth from the two parties, arguing about who was in the wrong, the town decided to take dramatic action and issued eminent domain notifications to the corporations, informing them the town would be seizing the property.

After more consideration, the town rescinded the threats — but did request the town be allowed to utilize the property for a beach nourishment project that would require temporarily installing pipes across private property.

Related: Carolina Beach rescinds eminent domain notifications at Freeman Park

It appears the property owners were not keen on allowing the town to use any of their land and are now requesting a trial by jury to decide if the town has the right to use the property, even for the limited purpose of repairing the beach.

Court documents show four different cases, by different LLCs, making counterclaims against the town’s request for eminent domain to use the property for beach nourishment.

The LLCs are requesting a jury trial take place and asking the court to rule against the actions of Carolina Beach.

Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson said that no decisions on the park have been made by the town council as of now.

A special meeting will be held Saturday in closed session for the council to discuss the cases with their attorney.

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