Duck Town Council meets tonight, fireworks over beach accesses likely

Sea Oats [Photo courtesy Better Beaches OBX]

The Duck Town Council holds its regular meeting tonight, and though the recent controversy over public beach accesses isn’t on the agenda, many local residents are planning to speak during public comment time.

The town has faced a firestorm of criticism after the arrest of a local businessman on trespassing charges last week at a beach access that appears to be privately-owned.

Bob Hovey, owner of Duck Village Outfitters and the man arrested at the access, plans to attend tonight’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

In a statement, the Town of Duck confirmed Hovey’s arrest, saying the beach access in question is privately owned and maintained by the Sand Dollar Shores Homeowners Association.

“The charge and arrest were the culmination of a long-standing dispute between Mr. Hovey and the property owners of the Sand Dollar Shores subdivision,” the statement said. “After repeated attempts by the Town of Duck Police Department to pursue a peaceful resolution, officers on the scene today acted to diffuse a situation that was escalating.”

The towns of Duck and Southern Shores have no public beach access points, all are privately owned and maintained. Hovey has for years rallied against the legality of those private accesses, saying the Sand Dollar Shores access in particular has a dedicated public easement.

“To be clear, in accordance with the North Carolina public trust and state statutes, the beaches in Duck are public,” the town said in a statement. “The Town of Duck does not restrict an individual’s use of the public beach, but it does not own or maintain any beach access locations in the town,” the statement said. “Because the accesses are privately owned and maintained, the Town cannot grant permission for their use and unauthorized use could be deemed trespass as it would with any other private property.

“The Town does not monitor any beach access locations with the intent to discern between authorized and unauthorized users of a private beach access. The Town will respond to complaints of use by unauthorized individuals and these are handled in conformity with other simple trespass complaints.”

Since Hovey’s arrest, more than $11,700 has been donated to a fund aimed at fighting the town in court and a petition to “create a positive and peaceful resolution” has gained more than 500 signatures.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.