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Residents looking to close public beach access

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH -- A pathway to the beach is the focus of a major controversy for some Wrightsville Beach residents. The route known as Beach Access 33 has been around since the '60s. Until last year it was considered a public right-of-way, but once local residents discovered a legal right to the property, the struggle began. Residents disagree over whether the pathway meets the criteria for "prescriptive use" -- whether the path has become public property after years of use -- versus the rights of the property owners. Surfrider Foundation Spokesman Jim Mincher said, "I think Beach Access 33 should remain open. We've used it for 40-something years and I think it's our right to keep using it." The residents claiming ownership of the path are now seeking a permit to erect a fence to close off access to the beach.

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