ONLY ON 3: Wrightsville Beach laws face a line in the sand

Tags: , , , , , ,

Submitted: Wed, 06/13/2012 - 3:14am
Updated: Wed, 06/13/2012 - 2:46pm

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — With a smoking ban under consideration at Wrightsville Beach, many people wonder if the town could even enforce such an ordinance. So what is legal? What’s not? And where?

At Wrightsville Beach the line in the sand is drawn at high tide. It’s called the 1939 Line, which defines town property from the dunes to the high water mark.

Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti says the fact that the town owns any of the beach makes it different.

“We’re a little unique at Wrightsville Beach, because most beaches couldn’t even attempt to do what we’re proposing, because they don’t own the land that’s out on the beach,” Cignotti said.

Cignotti says the proposed smoking ban that will be voted on in November may be affected by the line.

“In my opinion, we can enforce most of the beach,” Cignotti said. “You are correct in saying that someone could literally go into the water and smoke a cigarette. We could not enforce that.”

Cignotti says if this becomes a problem, Wrightsville Beach will contact the state about finding a solution. Visitors to the beach say if they are told something is illegal, they’re not going to waste their vacation trying to figure out loopholes.

“I think only the residents will know it and take advantage of that,” visitor Rose Burwell said. “Otherwise I think visitors will just obey the laws.”

A ban on drinking alcohol at the beach is enforced the same way a smoking ban would be. Mayor cignotti says the town stands by the drinking law and has never had a problem with anyone challenging it so far.


  • Ashley says:

    I don’t think people smoking prevents you from breathing. If your concerned about air quality then you need to worry about automobiles since they impact air quality exponentially worse than smoking does. I bet you own a car….better get rid of it quick if you feel air quality affects your right to breathe…

  • JessW says:

    I’ve seen several comments in complaint of “freedoms” being stripped by passing a law stating that beach visitors are not allowed to smoke on the beach. I, for one, would be ecstatic to hear that I could visit a beach without having to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Believe it or not, smokers can survive a few hours without smoking. A question for smokers: what about the right to breathe? No one is telling adults it’s illegal to smoke, but when your actions directly affect the health of people around you, it’s inconsiderate and childish to complain about laws such as this one. I’d like to see a smoking ban in all public areas, mainly because there are so many non smokers who have to deal with the smell and the inability to breathe when smokers decide they can’t wait a little longer to get in their cars or get home to light up. It is extremely rude to smoke in public, and unesessary.

  • Guest1890 says:

    That only applies to state laws, not local ordinances. It’s funny that they continue to illegally write people tickets just because no one has challenged it.

  • Guest246 says:

    Nah, if they try that the next thing you know they will be enforcing the law 2 or 3 miles away…. oh right thay’ve already done that and got in trouble.

  • Wilmington Observer says:

    Do the exterritorital Jurisdiction laws not give Police Departments jurisdiction within the one mile area outside of a town’s city limits?

    Wilmington Observer

  • Jed99 says:

    Pretty soon there will be toll bridge and you will have to pay to go over.

  • brendle says:

    Even if they privatize the island, I can still hit their beaches by boat. Figure Eight Island tried to exclude non residents a few years ago, and found out that the Federal Law allowed anyone to visit between the high tide line and the water.

  • Guest1234 says:

    How about go ahead and just throw up the bridge all together and make it a private beach already? That is exactly what the residences there want anyhow. It has been that way since I was a child. The people who live there don’t want strangers there. They hate the tourist for sure. They go out of their way to make them feel unwanted for sure. They come up with all these “rules” and “regulations” just to make the undesirables feel unwanted. There is one problem though. If they were to ever make that little island private it would sink into the ocean. Because without the tourist they couldn’t survive. I know this story isn’t about that, but mark my words it will come up soon enough. They already don’t have a gas station yet again on the island and barely a grocery store at all. I would much rather drive to Carolina Beach that for one has parking!! They have a little of it all there again. I am happy that they are trying to lure people to their beach again.

  • Guest7969 says:

    Roberts has everything you could ever need…if they don’t its not a long drive to HT…as far as gas…I’m fairly sure the Exxon Scotchman has gas…

  • WilmingtonMAJ says:

    Perhaps because others don’t want to breathe in your fumes and stink for the rest of the day. I’m sorry…you may not realize this since you smoke…but it STINKS!

  • p west says:

    i smoke on the beach,but take a small tin to put the cigarette ends,in…why not have a 500 dollar fine for those who leave cigarette ends there,simple


    So does this mean that the surfing zones are BS ? If I received a citation for surfing outside the zone, would it hold water in court ?
    That aside had they pushed for smoking zones much like the surfing it most likely would have passed. . Even better everyone for the most part would’ve been happy. Not only that but they would know where to focus cig filter pick up efforts.

  • Guest7969 says:

    It seems it is…as the town doesn’t own anything below the high tide line…going to take a surfer to get a ticket and take it to court to find out…

  • Guest7969 says:

    “I think only the residents will know it and take advantage of that,” visitor Rose Burwell said. “Otherwise I think visitors will just obey the laws.”

    DOUBLE SPEAK…she sais..she thinks the residents will take advantage of the high tide line…but visitors will just obey the law…LOL..the LAW IS THAT YOU CANNOT ENFORCE BELOW THE HIGH TIDE LINE…so the RESIDENTS are following the law..the visitors will see the residents doing it and pick up on it…


  • Jason says:

    I quit going there. The rules a vague, you can’t park anywhere. And please, don’t be a minute late, or leave your car to go to the pay box to pay because when you come back you will have a ticket on your car. The parking renta cops hide in the bushes. Now, lets see, you can’t smoke, you can’t drink, and you sure don’t want to go there and have to use the restroom, because they stink, and are run down. Next, they will have the renta cops out there in the water making sure no one uses it for a bathroom.

  • Guest Oooops says:

    What about when a hurricane storm surge brings water further onshore?

  • Government Mule says:

    Ahhh, yes. State Patrol? This is Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti and a we have a man that’s walked ankle deep in the Ocean smoking a cigarette or lit tobacco product of some kind and we a, well were a going to need some back up her either by air or sea at this point because the man has left the mainland and is out in the Ocean smoking and I… CLICK. Hello etc…

  • Carol Kramer says:

    Smokers and drinkers should exercise their FREEDOM to smoke and drink and if it’s as easy as placing your sand chair below the high tide line, well that’s a terrific place to be. A short stroll down to the water’s edge is rather appealing, too.

    As far as I know, all NC citizens contribute to the Public Beach and Waterfront Access Grants, yet the cigarette butt obsessed of Wrightsville Beach with their power-tripping, freedom-stripping agenda believe it is their right to limit the rights of others.
    What is it about freedom that’s so difficult to understand?

    The N.C. General Assembly established the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program in 1981 by amending CAMA to provide the matching grants to local governments for oceanfront beach access areas. In 1983, the legislature expanded the program to include estuarine beaches and waterways.

  • Guest7969 says:

    Please remember that the Town of Wrightsville Beach and the Board of Alderman…are NOT FOR THIS and have voted AGAINST this…its NOT them!…Its the residents…and it will be interesting to see how they vote as a WHOLE…

  • Guest7969 says:

    “if they are told something is illegal, they’re not going to waste their vacation trying to figure out loopholes. ”

    SO..your just going to LIE…Gotta love government!

  • John says:

    You enter the water at your own risk. Surfers can go where they like. Wrightsville Beach police officers have no right to issue tickets period.

  • p west says:

    just fine the smokers 500 dollars if tey leave there butts on the beach,i smoke and take mine home,,,,simple

Leave a Reply