Editorial: Kure Beach Should Allow ATV's On Beach For ADA Access

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 30 March 2016 04:00

Managing Editor

Recently the Kure Beach Town Council heard a request from resident Don Harris to create a permitting process to allow people with disabilities to use their ATV's (4-wheelers) to go fishing on the beach.
The Council was cautious and seemed reluctant to act on the request. Councilman David Heglar said the issue could be explored in more detail before making a final decision.
There are only three ramps that a person could drive an ATV over to access the beach. That's M. Avenue, K Avenue and Davis Beach Road. Harris told the Council he already has a permit from the Park Ranger at the Fort Fisher State Recreation area south of Kure Beach. It should be noted that vehicles are already permitted to drive on the beach at that park unlike the beach fronts in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.
Mayor Emilie Swearingen indicated that allowing such ADA access via a motorized ATV might negatively impact the beach which recently received an infusion of sand under a beach nourishment project and that's why the Town doesn't want a lot of ATV's driving on the beach.
That's understandable if the request was to allow everyone to drive an ATV on the beach, but that's not the request. The request is for people who are physically challenged who want to go fishing with all the associated equipment using an ATV. Meaning that it would be restricted to those individuals that could prove their status by either presenting a handicap placard used to park their vehicle in ADA spaces or some other form of medical documentation when obtaining a special use permit.
Very few people would actually utilize the permit process and if things got out of hand the Town could always repeal their decision in the future. Council should set some rules and limitations and serve as a pilot program or model for other communities.
Police, fire and life guard personnel already drive trucks and ATV's on the beach on a daily basis and there is no negative impact to the environment.
Some possible rules:
- Must be a licensed driver.
- Must have a handicap placard that is displayed in a vehicle when parking in ADA parking spaces.
- Set a speed limit.
- Set a distance limit once an ATV has accessed the beach.
- ATV must not leak fluids and violations would result in a fine.
Other issues can be addressed such as setting limits on hours of operation. For example, addressing loud ATV's operating at night disturbing residents.
There are ways to make this work positively for the community.


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