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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Kure Beach To Discuss Smoking On The Beach At July 19th Meeting

Kure Beach To Discuss Smoking On The Beach At July 19th Meeting

The Kure Beach Council will discuss smoking on the beach at their upcoming Thursday July 19, meeting. The neighboring Town of Carolina Beach will consider a ban on smoking on the beachfront at their meeting in August. Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth requested the item be added to the agenda for discussion only.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH, NC - The Kure Beach Town Council will hold their regular meeting on Thursday July 19th. Near the end of agenda for that meeting includes discussion regarding "Smoking on the beach". The meeting begins at 6:30PM at Town Hall.
The Carolina Beach Town Council held a public hearing at their Tuesday July 10, meeting. That hearing was well attended by citizens offering a wide variety of opinions both in favor and in opposition to a smoking ban on the beachfront for numerous reasons. The Carolina Beach Council voted to consider a ban at their August regular meeting.
The agenda item for the upcoming Kure Beach Council meeting list Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth as the member requesting the item be included for the meeting.
On Tuesday July 17, Mayor Lambeth said in anticipation of the issue being brought up due to proposals in both Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, "I wanted to let them know we don't own the beach."
Lambeth said, "Most of the cigarette butts on our beach come from storm water runoff" that reaches the beach via storm drain outfall pipes.
He said, "Plus, it would be hell to enforce. I haven't heard of anyone bringing up the issue at this point, but we need to go ahead and have Council discussion."
The Carolina Beach Town Council heard public comment at their Tuesday July 10 meeting on the issue of implementing a smoking ban on the beach everywhere except Freeman Park. The item was placed on the agenda at the request of Councilman Lonnie Lashley.
The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen debated the issue earlier this year ultimately voting not to implement such a ban. Concerned residents petitioned the Board to hold a referendum that will appear on the November 2012 ballot posing the question of whether or not to ban smoking on their beachfront.
Carolina Beach Town Attorney Lawrence Craige explained on July 10, "At this point it appears there is some enabling legislation that goes back to 1963 that gives [Carolina Beach] title to property from the building line on the 1963 map to the low water mark of the Atlantic Ocean."
He said after reviewing that map, the Town would have the authority to regulate from that building line to the low water mark of the ocean. Where that line is not defined then the Town would not have the authority to regulate that beach property."
Craige said, "There was also legislation passed that granted title to property from the high water mark on any property where there has been beach renourishment, title to that property from the high water mark... is in the state. There may be situations where both the title to the property is with the Town and the State of North Carolina. In that instance the Town would arguably have a right to regulate that land. Absent some indication of ownership by the Town... they would not be able to regulate it."
Town Manager Tim Owens said the southern portion of Town was not a part of the Town limits in 1963 and was not part of the Town's beach nourishment project. He said that area begins around the area of the Carolina Beach Lake and south to neighboring Kure Beach. He said, "In that area south to Kure Beach there may be no way to impose a smoking ban because it's part of the public trust" beachfront.
Owens said currently the State would have to clarify how to deal with people standing at the waters edge smoking on the beach because that would fall outside regulation.
Other ordinances such as banning dogs on the beach are specifically permitted by general policing powers. The legislation adopted by the State giving Town's the authority to implement smoking bans on "public grounds" was adopted in 2010 long after those types of bans were permitted and has specific requirements.
Wrightsville Beach has a different scenario due to legislation adopted in 1939 that gives them title to a section of the beach to the high-tide watermark.
Carolina Beach Council member Sarah Friede said, "I'm very much in favor of banning cigarettes on the beach" and would like to request the Town Attorney bring back an ordinance and information advising them how to proceed. She said people can treat their bodies how they please, but when she takes her kids to the beach she doesn't want to be subjected to the health hazards.
Carolina Beach Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he's an ex-smoker of 20 years. He said emails on the topic he's received are "30 to 1" in favor of the ban. He said after spending time on the beach over the weekend, he observed people just tossing down their cigarette butts and it's a problem that needs to be resolved. He said, "That would leave Freeman Park and south of the lake. Until such time as we can go to our legislators and ask them for authority south of the lake where there is no building line... we could at least start with a good 12 or 14 blocks from the North End Pier down" to where there is no 1963 building line. The Council voted to advertise for a public hearing at their August regular meeting in order to consider adopting a smoking ban for areas they determine they have authority.