Carolina Beach Town Council Discusses Regulating The Display Of Flags

Carolina Beach Town Council Discusses Regulating The Display Of Flags

Carolina Beach Town Council Discusses Regulating The Display Of Flags Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 28 October 2020 02:39

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council briefly discussed the issue of regulating flags at Freeman Park on the North End of the Island during their October 27th, workshop meeting.
During the 2020 election season and debate over symbolic flags of various subject matters, people favor the flags they agree with and often question others.
Councilman Jay Healy explained, "It could be a sensitive issue, but in our packet, ordinance 20-1146, it's page 12, section 28-160, it says conduct of visitors, it says visitors should conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful to others, other people in the park and not do anything commonly considered to be offensive, distasteful or insulting to other visitors."
Healy explained, "I had discussion with my neighbors about some of the flags that are flying out there. I think it is an issue. The question is, how do you address it in the ordinance, the flag piece?"
Councilman Lynn Barbee explained, "I think Noel told us last time the only option is to ban all flags." Town Attorney Noel Fox said, "Content neutral.  You can't say you can't fly your Sponge Bob flag, your Barney flag, I'm not going to touch any issue that is sensitive to anybody." She explained, "I think that Bruce had a suggestion that you eliminate polls which I think is great except that gets into tents and cabanas."
Mayor Leanne Pierce said it was her understanding it was an issue with freedom of speech.
Barbee said, "Because if you do no flags you have to tell people they can't have a United States flag."
Mayor Leanne Pierce said, "That's very subjective because what is offensive to one person might not be offensive to somebody else."
The ordinance referenced by Healy speaks to "sound producing devices" and states, "Sec. 28-160. - Conduct of visitors. Visitors to Freeman Park shall use discretion in using any sound producing devices, which may include, but are not limited to, televisions, radios, stereos, musical instruments, generators or other noisy machinery, so as not to create a nuisance to others.
Visitors should conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of other people in the park and not do anything commonly considered to be offensive, distasteful or insulting to other visitors."
Freeman Park is largely outside of the Town's jurisdiction. The Town owns the first 1,000 feet beyond of the end of Canal Drive. After that, parcels are privately owned.
Private properties west of the front of the dune line are considered private while any portion of a property located east of the front of the dune line is open to public use under State Law as a public-trust  area. That includes the dry sand beach east to the high water mark. The wet sand beach belongs to the State of North Carolina. The Town has authority to manage the public-trust beach as a park.
That was granted to them by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners some years ago.
There is a fee charged for vehicle access to drive on the beach front within the park. The Town doesn't charge people a fee to walk into the park.
They can only charge for four-wheel drive vehicle access.
The Town has the authority under State Law to “regulate, restrict and prohibit” vehicles driving on the dry sand beach within the public-trust area.

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