WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Although a smoking ban in Wrightsville Beach was snuffed out a month ago, the fight is not over yet.
Supporters of the ban say they are sick of butts on the beach, so they found a loophole in town law to revive their cause.
The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 to deny a smoking ban at the beach, but the group in support of that ban says they’re not giving up, and they say they have a number of people on their side. Supporters of the ban found a section in the town’s charter that lets them petition the board to put the ban in place or put the issue up for a public referendum.
“We believe in what we’re doing,” said Aaron Richardet, who supports the ban. “We’ve got enough people that want this, and it takes the power away from the governing body of the board and puts it back into the town’s hands and lets the people, the voters decide if they truly want it or not.”
It’s the same process opponents to a tax-funded ballpark are using to petition the City of Wilmington. Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington are two of just 12 municipalities in the state with the petition provision. The anti-smoking group needs 211 signatures, that’s 35 percent of the voter turnout in last year’s town election, and they say they have more than they need.
“I think it’s like anything else, if you ask once and you don’t get it, you have to keep asking and you have to keep pushing,” Richardet said. “It’s like the old saying, ‘If it’s worth fighting for, it’s worth having.'”
The New Hanover County Board of Elections says the signatures on the petition have not yet been verified, but if the town does decide to move forward with the verification, that could take up to ten days. Then the Board of Aldermen have another 20 days to decide if they will put the ban into place or if they’ll leave it up to a vote of the public.
We tried to talk to the three aldermen who voted against the ban last month. None of them have return our calls.
The Board of Aldermen meeting starts at 6 p.m.