The Town of Duck in the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been named one of "America's Top 10 Best Beaches" and one of the country's "Best Coastal Small Towns," but the OBX town has been in the news for a different reason in the past week: its beach access.
The 3.7 square mile town nestled between Corolla and Southern Shores boasts a public park, a public boardwalk and even public beaches, but apparently there's one critical thing that isn't public anywhere in Duck: beach access points.
According to the Town of Duck's website, all of the oceanfront land in the town is private property, with most of it governed by one of dozens of subdivision homeowners’ associations and all of it - 100% of it - is private, with signs posted at the access points warning beach-goers to stay away if they're not a resident or renter of one of the homes within the subdivision.
So, while the beaches in Duck are public - and maintained in part by the tax dollars of the roughly 400 year-around residents, according to the Town of Duck's website, only those in oceanfront communities can legally access or grant access to the beaches.
The whole issue came to a head last week when a Duck business owner and beach rights advocate was arrested for trespassing as he attempted to access the beach in Duck.
“On Wednesday, May 29, at approximately 8:00 a.m. Robert E. Hovey was taken into custody and charged with second-degree trespass (N.C.G.S. Section 14-159.13) in the location of Seabreeze Drive,” Duck said in a public statement.
Hovey filmed and posted on social media the incident in which two beach access residents confronted him for attempting to access the beach and subsequently called police, at which point Hovey was arrested. The post was viewed thousands of times and the Town of Duck responded by issuing a statement amid calls to boycott Duck beaches.
The town has since updated its website with a FAQ section about the beach access and the town's ability to create a public beach access point, which it seems like the town does not have.
Duck is not the only Outer Banks town without public beach access; its neighbor, Southern Shores, also doesn't offer any public beach access. Corolla, N.C., does though.