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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Yesterday we told you about a cab driver ticketed in Wrightsville Beach for pulling over and picking up a customer. Today we hear from those familiar with the island to see what they have to say about the incident.

Cab driver Gary Nolt’s story sparked numerous online comments from viewers who felt Wrightsville Beach town ordinance 74 goes too far by restricting cab drivers or anyone from parking or standing in undesignated areas.

Nolt said he received a ticket over the weekend when he pulled over to pick up a drunk patron who needed a ride. But Nolt is not the only cab driver who has run into a problem at Wrightsville Beach. Ken Fraser says he also has been threatened with a ticket for trying to pick up customers at night.

“There really is no harm or foul just to drop them off on the side of the road,” Fraser said. “You are not stopping in the road obstructing traffic you’re off on the side just like you were parked.”

Fraser says cab drivers have to pick up customers in two designated areas, which are located on Lumina and West Columbia and right behind the Wings surf store. He thinks the two spots are small and not ideal.

“They have to either park there or park off one of the side streets where they are not visible to the patrons coming out of the clubs, so it’s pretty difficult to pick up and drop-off,” Fraser said.

But while drivers and some viewers disagree with Wrightsville Beach’s strict ordinance, some familiar with the island understand it’s about safety.

“If there’s a lot of cabs and cars in the middle of the road someone can easily get hurt,” said Travis Deitz, who works at Sweetwater Surf Shop. “It’s a little inconvenient for cabs to go to a certain spot, but, you know, in the long run it’s worth the safety issue.”

As for those actually using the cabs at Wrightsville Beach, some think there are not enough taxis and believe it’s rules like ordinance 74 that keep them away.

“I don’t think they have ever had enough cabs down here at all,” Nicholas Papaioanu said. “I think downtown (wilmington) gets favored a lot. Law enforcement down there looks the other way than they do at the beach.”

We contacted the mayor and town aldermen to get their reaction. In a statement Mayor David Cignotti said, “The town of Wrightsville Beach added a second taxi stand last year at the request of our downtown business owners. We encourage taxi drivers to use the taxi stands in an effort to increase pedestrian and auto safety. The last thing we want is people, some of them intoxicated, jumping out in the street and trying to flag down taxis.”

Comment on this Story

  • Colonel Sanders (Town manager)

    Mercury levels are soaring at Wrightsville Beach! The mercury poses a direct threat to the health and well being of Wrightsville Beach Citizens and visitors. Why is Mayor Cignotti and Retired Colonel Simpson diverting our attention to a drunk hailing a cab instead of focusing like a laser on the hazard we all face. This crisis will not evaporate like our elected officials attention to it has.

  • Ethicswatcher

    A Mayor and a Police Department at odds with its citizens. No more small town chiefs. Good bye Barney. Listen to your citizens Mayor Cignotti. Hire a real professional with credentials. Hire someone with metropolitan saavy who will have the moxy to deal the big town to our West and the problems that follow.

  • Sandytoes

    I am sorry Mayor Cignotti but they may not make it to a taxi stand before they stumble into the road. Is it better to get them out of WB as soon as possible or better to let them wander WB intoxicated? Small town mindset does not require you to think out of the box. Remember you can always look at the problem from a different angle within the box Mayor Cignotti.

  • Cignotti said WHAT?

    I hope the Small Business Owners are smart enough to realize that Mayor Cignotti is smiling and promising them the moon on a weekday and promulgating policies on the weekend that are disastrous for them. I have not heard of any “jump in front of cars” pandemic at WB Mr. Mayor. So why not be a problem solver. Perhaps the bar owners may share the relatively small expense of renting a shuttle will carry patrons to a large lot over the bridge where cabs or friends will be waiting with safe rides home. You get my point Mr. Mayor. get outside of the smalltown box and be a problem solver not a problem perpetuator. If you hire Barney, you get Goober too.

  • Manage the Manager

    The best part is that the Interns at Wrightsville Beach have better credentials and educations than the people Mayor Cignotti is trying to hire to be the future leaders of our local government. Education, training and experience matter when problem solving. GO FOR THE BEST. Manage the manager Mayor Cignotti and little things may not blow up into huge issues like this one. November

  • Why doesn’t the city council just leave the taxi drivers alone? These men are only trying to make a living, and there is no need to harass them over piddly things like this. If the cops have nothing better to do than harass working men trying to feed their families, then perhaps the police department is a bit overstaffed and can use some budget cutting.

  • The good side of the bridge

    All of Wrightsville Beach government treats people from the other side of the bridge this way. From the Cops to the inspections department, they are a joke! Give us your money but stay off the Island. Nothing a good hurricane couldn’t take care of.

  • Anon E Moose

    As a taxi driver of some 10 years experience in the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach/Carolina Beach area, I can speak from experience that when beach bar patrons have to walk a block or more from the door of the bar to find a cabstand, they do in fact “jump in the road” to hail a taxi. Downtown Wilmington, where taxi stands have been set up for night-time use in front of the bars has for the most part eliminated this hazard, but don’t be concerned, Wrightsville Beach, my colleagues and myself will be more than happy to refuse service to your community, and to recommend the wonderful establishments in Carolina Beach to visitors who ride with us. Happy Drunk Motoring,WB, try not toswerve off the drawbridge!

  • Larry

    This whole incident is exactly what WB wants, to aggravate people to the point where they don’t come there any more. WB wants to be Figure 8 but doesn’t want to loose precious tax dollars that help pump sand to save their overrated island. Take a look at the cars that WB police pull over, you can pretty much guarantee that they don’t mess with the residents but rather just the average Joe and Jill who just want to feel some sand between their toes. How about the parking situation? WB has jacked up parking prices and severely limited the amount of available parking to keep people away. They are now proposing that you aren’t even allowed to park near the courts and walk to the beach anymore.

    Welcome to WB, now leave your dollars and get off our island. Oh, and be sure to pay your taxes to pay for renourishment so you can have a nice beach to enjoy. What a joke.

  • Take charge Mayor Cignotti

    Mayor Cignotti, it’s about education, credentials and experience. We complain about problems that have been going on at WB for years. Bob Simpson has been the Town Manager for five and a half years, yet the problems persist. Cignotti inherited him, yet he allows Simpson to offer him candidates with minimal education for our Town. It is surprising given that Cignotti is an educator. We deserve the best we can hire to compete for limited resources that all of the local Towns are grappling over. Mayor Cignotti, I am pleading with you. Hire problem solvers with credentials that impress. Look at the advanced levels of education, training and experience that Wilmington and New Hanover County public officials possess. We need to be in their league when competing. A simple Bachelor’s Degree will not cut it. Hire some thoroughbreds so we can win for a change. David beat Goliath because he was the smartest, not the biggest. Don’t be led Mayor, LEAD.


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