Council Votes To Lift Ban On People Wearing Thongs

Council Votes To Lift Ban On People Wearing Thongs

Council Votes To Lift Ban On People Wearing Thongs Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 14 August 2019 15:51

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Thongs are legal. The Carolina Beach Town Council discussed amending the Town's code of ordinances regarding public nudity during their Tuesday August 13th, meeting and voted to remove a ban prohibiting thongs.

According to Miles Murphy - Town Planner - due to a 1998 court case, it has been determined cities and towns can not ban people from wearing thongs on the beach because under state law it is legal to expose "buttocks".

A local resident sent an  unsigned email to Carolina Beach Police Chief Chris Spivey on June 21st, requesting the Town enforce a law banning "public nudity" when people wear thongs or similar swimsuits that show exposed "buttocks."

In the email the resident explained, "I am a tax paying resident of Carolina Beach and am very concerned that our beaches are turning into non-family friendly environments with displays of public nudity by all the thong swimsuits that are showing up on the beaches. According to Code 1986 11-72 Ord. No.06-658, 11-14-2006 Sec.-166 - Public Nudity, it  is illegal to expose to the view of others pubic area, pubic hair, anus, or BUTTOCKS with less than a fully opaque covering. In other words thong and similar swimsuits being worn on the beach with most or all of the buttocks being exposed are against the law.  I would request that your department start patrolling the beach regularly and enforcing this Ordinance on those that are demanding to expose themselves illegally and indecently to the public who are just trying to enjoy a day on the beach."

The person wrote, "Unfortunately, your first stop needs to be with the female lifeguards who are wearing indecent swimsuits with half of their buttocks exposed - they are in clear violation of the code and this needs to be addressed and corrected immediately. Chris,  I am sure you remember the days not so long ago where Carolina Beach was considered across our State and other neighboring States as a rough destination that was not family or children friendly."

The resident wrote, "We have done a tremendous job in rebuilding a reputation and adding family and children oriented attractions to make Carolina Beach a popular vacation destination, but we are in jeopardy of losing that again if we don't start enforcing our nudity codes - as evidenced by what can be seen on the beach now daily, if we give an inch they will take a mile and thongs become the norm only to run our families away.  Of course, in the long-term this negatively impacts all of our property values and drives away residents as well as tourists. I ask that you personally get involved in seeing this Code is enforced so we can keep our Beach the wonderful place it has been built up to be."

In a memo to the Council Murphy explained, "Upon review of regional comparisons and the state statutes, staff determined that CB is with the minority of coastal towns that places further restriction on indecent exposure than the NCGS (North Carolina General Statutes)."

Murphy explained, "In 1998 the State looked into this issue in the court case of State V. Fly. It was determined there that, “To hold that buttocks are private parts would make criminals of all North Carolinians who appear in public wearing “thong” or “g-string” bikinis or other such skimpy attire during our torrid summer months. Our beaches, lakes, and resort areas are often teeming with such scantily clad vacationers. We simply do not believe that our legislature sought to discourage a practice so commonly engaged in by so many of our people when it enacted N.C.G.S. § 14–190.9."

He explained, "This ruling verifies that is legal to expose the buttocks on the beach, so long as it does not result in exposure of genitals or the anus. The University of NC School of Government released in article in August of 2016 looking into this issue.

They went along to state that, based on one court case and GS 160A-174, towns may not even have the right to have an ordinance in place which is stricter than it already is. Essentially, local ordinances may not actually be able to prohibit the exposure of buttocks."

Currently subsection (b) of Sec. 28-166. - Public nudity, states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to appear on any public beach, any public street or in any public park in a state of dress or undress so as to expose to the view of others the human male or female pubic area, pubic hair, anus, vulva or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering."

The proposal up for Council consideration is to simply remove the word "buttocks".

The neighboring Town of Kure Beach adopted an ordinance years ago that states, "Thong bathing suits or similar attire are specifically prohibited." The first offense can result in a warning for a $50 fine.

During the Council's August 13th, meeting, the Council adopted the proposed amendment with very little discussion.

Town Attorney Noel Fox explained, "You're striking the one word because in 1998 there was a case where the North Carolina Supreme Court found that it is not indecent exposure to expose your buttocks."

She explained, "As a result of that there was also some revision to the indecent exposure statute that further limited what does and does not constitute indecent exposure. If you were to hand out a citation for somebody wearing a thong then they would likely challenge it and they may very well prevail."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth made a motion to pass the recommended amendment. The Council voted unanimously.

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