BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (StarNews) – Brunswick County commissioners are keeping a watchful eye on a case that could impact the public’s right to access portions of North Carolina beaches.
The commissioners have provided $2,000 in support of the Town of Emerald Isle, which is involved in the N.C. Supreme Court case Nies v. Town of Emerald Isle. Emerald Isle residents Greg and Diane Nies contend that the public does not have the right to access the “dry sand” portion of beach to which they hold title. The dry sand portion of a beach extends from the highest point ocean water reaches on land to the foot of the most seaward dunes, vegetation or storm debris line.
Before pending review in the N.C. Supreme Court, in November 2015, the N.C. Court of Appeals held that the public has the right to access all State dry sand beaches. Though oceanfront owners, such as the Nieses, may hold title to a portion of the dry sand beach, the Court held that the title does not give owners the right to deny public access.