During special meeting, Sunset Beach council passes ban on commercial cabanas

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SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — What a week it’s been in Sunset Beach. Last week, the town council fired the town administrator and the mayor quit.

But what residents and visitor have been most riled up about are limits on beach cabanas.

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Council was back in action in a special meeting Tuesday. They met in a closed-door session for more than an hour.

In a three to two vote, Sunset Beach council banned commercial companies from putting up cabanas for customers, a move some business owners are not excited about.

“Clearly there’s other motives than just false assumptions which I think it would be that those three town council members are anti-tourism, anti-business,” Julie’s Rentals owner David Dowda said.

Councilmen John Corbett and Charles Nern were against any change and believed it would be better to put off these discussions until the end of the tourist season.

Mayor pro-tem Mark Benton and council members Richard Cerrato and Jan Harris voted for the ban in a 3-2 vote.  Council did not allow public comment even though councilmen Corbett and Nern encouraged it.

Businesses think they’ll suffer because of it.

“It’s going to take probably three quarters of our profits. So it’s going to hurt us quite a bit. I do think it’s very unfair the way they handled it. At least let us get our season in. Even just in my refund fees, I’m going to pay $6000,” Blue Planet Water Sports owner Collin Vanderburg said.

There were a lot of upset voices in the packed council chamber. Many people were upset saying it would be harder for the elderly or anyone who is sick to set up the cabanas by themselves.

It got to a point where Benton asked a police officer to escort some people out if they spoke again.

Benton refused to go on camera after the meeting but he said this is better for Sunset Beach.

“You voted me in to do this kind of work. I’m doing it. If you don’t, in September, vote me back out a year and a half from now… I’m tired of fighting, the arguing, the back biting,” Benton said. That statement was followed by laughter from the public.

Not to be overshadowed, council also talked about the process to find a new mayor. Mayor Robert Forrester resigned after council voted to fire their town administrator. Council named Hiram Marziano as the interim administrator.