Duck, North Carolina hears comments on lack of beach accesses
When anticipated fireworks over a beach access issue failed to materialize during the June 5 Duck Town Council meeting, the only storm in Duck last Wednesday night was from falling rain outside.
Duck was thrust into the middle of an undeserved tempest over access to its oceanfront beach when Robert E. Hovey was taken into custody at Seabreeze Drive on May 29 and charged with second-degree trespass. A video of the incident made the rounds on social media, drawing considerable attention.
At the regular Town Council meeting the following Wednesday night, council members were prepared for a lengthy procession of speakers. With public speaking guidelines displayed on two overhead screens, town manager Chris Layton took a moment at the beginning of the council meeting to advise a crowded meeting room that the initial public comment period would include speakers who had signed up at three minutes each for a maximum of one hour. Only 30 minutes were needed.
During his time at the podium, Hovey maintained that he believed several accesses were deeded to the public and said he had deeds, although he did not produce any paperwork to support the claim. He went on to say there is a need for public access for business owners and their employees because not every citizen is allowed to go to the beach without fear of being arrested like he was. He also called for allowing public parking where public parking makes sense and working with the Army Corps of Engineers.
“I am willing to work with council toward a resolution,” said Hovey. “There has to be a resolution to this.”
Following Hovey, a dozen speakers, most from outside Duck, took turns at the podium.
While some said they support Hovey and the addition of public beach accesses, a majority of speakers simply stated they were in favor of a peaceful solution. A few felt opening up additional accesses might increase the number of people coming to Duck, while some asked where the money would come from and said they were concerned about the effect on taxes if Duck bought back the land.
At the end of public comments, Mayor Don Kingston said there had been communication between Hovey and the town in recent days, adding that Town Council is open to discussing the issue at a later date when tensions have eased.
Kingston then thanked everyone for their comments and continued with the remainder of the night’s agenda.