CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- A smoking ban on the sand at Carolina Beach was approved Tuesday night, but with a few stipulations from town council.
According to the town's attorney, current state statute does not allow the town to outlaw smoking at the beach. Because the beach does not fall under the state's definition of public grounds, council cannot legally enforce a ban.
Council voted 4-1, passing a beach smoking ban with an effective date, pending a change in state law. Mayor Ray Rothrock was the only one not to vote in favor of the ordinance. Residents spoke out both for and against the ban during a public hearing.
“They can't enforce it so like I said it's a waste of time and I’m telling you right now the legislature in North Carolina is not going to pass this because they know it's going to be violating individual rights,” said Frederick Fisher, who lives in Carolina Beach.
“I think they did show us tonight that they are in support of smoke free beaches and that this ordinance that they passed will help reduce litter and smoke from our beach,” said Ethan Crouch, a member of the Surfrider Foundation. “So we're really excited.”
If the state ends up passing legislation that would allow the town to enforce a ban, it would be historic. Carolina Beach would be the first to ban smoking on a beach in North Carolina.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, town council was considering putting limitations on the number and sizes of patriotic and decorative flags allowed on properties.
In the end, council members decided the patriotic flags can stay. However, decorative flags will have new restrictions, only one being allowed every 50 feet instead of the old rule of every 25 feet.
Business owners were split on the decision. Some saying too many flags can serve as an advantage to businesses and others saying it is their right as an American to display flags as they please.