Cabana ban sparks outrage in Sunset Beach

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SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — If you like to catch some rays at Sunset Beach, catching some shade may be a bit more difficult this summer.

On Monday, the Sunset Beach Town Council voted 3 to 2 to ban companies from setting up cabanas they rent on the beach. It is a move many are upset with.

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“If the town had just waited until after the season was over I don’t think there would be any uproar at all,” Sandlappers Beach Supplies and Cabana Anna Owner, Kevin Godwin said. “This is their highlight of their vacation week. They can spend the whole day on the beach with this.”

It is something many from across the country look forward to when on vacation in Sunset Beach.

“We do it every year,” tourist, Dan Murtaugh said. “We all come from Maryland and Pennsylvania to be able to spend all day out on that beach. I honestly don’t think we would do it without having the protection of the canopies.”



Mayor Pro Tem Mark Benton sent WWAY the following statement:

“Cabana rentals for private use is of course allowed. Local rental companies will continue to rent and can deliver cabanas to private homes, they can no longer assemble and dismantle on the beach. Since we established Cabanas in 2007, there has been a constant flow of issues from; leaving broken ones on the beach, to reserving space and leaving the cabana empty, as well, with higher tides, there is less access for people to enjoy the beach. This was a fair compromise,” Benton said in a statement.

While vendors can still rent cabanas for private use and deliver them to private homes, business owners and tourists say that defeats the purpose.

“The Sunset Beach Town Council wants to tell elderly people that already have enough infirmities already to pick up one of these 45 pound canopies, walk it 100 yards down the beach, and set it up and then take it back down at the end of the day,” Godwin said.

“To walk out and have them set up and know that they’re safely secured and that somebody will come take them down is, you know, is worth a lot,” Murtaugh said.

Councilman John Corbett was against the ban.

“It really doesn’t support our business vendors who are very important to our island and our city,” Corbett said. “And it also seems to send a message out that keep the tourists away.”

Aside from losing business and tourists, Corbett said overall it is not the right move.

“I think the 3 councilmen who oppose having commercial cabanas can be the people who are out here every morning and assist the visitors to take their cabanas down and set them up,” Corbett said.

As of right now, Benton said the old rules are still in place until they hold a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Benton adds pending the meeting results the new rules will go into effect on that day.