Currituck County beach parking rule passes on a 5-1 vote

By on March 6, 2018

Permits to park on Currituck County’s beaches in the off-road area will be required from Memorial Day until Labor Day. (Dee Langston)

The Currituck Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 Monday to require parking permits during the height of the summer season for the off-road section of the county’s beaches.

The vote was a repeat of the outcome of a Feb. 19 vote on the issue, with Commissioner Mike Hall of Moyock again saying “nay” to the proposal.

“We’re not here to discourage day-trippers,” Hall said prior to Monday’s vote. “We have other beaches; we have a lot of parking areas; we’ve added places where you can find out what’s available for you to go visit,” he said.

“But I think we need to take a chance to see if these other options are working,” he added. However, he commended county staff and the board for the work that was put into the ordinance.

“I’m impressed at every level, but are we ready to begin it this year? Should it be done before we find out if the other changes that we’ve made will work?”

The rest of the board apparently disagreed with Hall, with some pointing out that safety on the northern beaches is a topic that has been discussed for years.

“Yes, we need to start,” Commissioner Mike Payment said, adding that the ordinance could be changed or tweaked as needed.

Commissioner Paul Beaumont said that residents of Carova Beach had asked the board to consider parking permits. “This didn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “We’re trying to protect kids, visitors, guests and residents.”

The parking permits are intended to cut back on the amount of traffic on the county’s northern beaches, which are clogged with vehicles, beach-goers and anglers during the summer months.

“The number-one issue is safety,” Commissioner Bob White said. “These roads are our roads. This is how I get home every day. If we don’t get control over the amount of traffic up there, we’ve got a very real problem.”

Commissioner Kitty Etheridge of Shawboro was absent from Monday’s meeting, but voted in favor of the ordinance amendment last month.

Although some speakers during the public comment section of the meeting suggested that requiring a permit to drive on the beach might be the best option, White said that wasn’t feasible.

“You couldn’t put a gate at that cattle gate,” he said, adding that traffic backed up at the gate would cause even bigger problems.

The new ordinance requires permits to park on the 14-mile stretch of beach from Corolla village to the state line from the Friday before Memorial Day until 11:59 p.m. Labor Day, allowing anyone to park on the beach the rest of the year at no charge.

Currituck County residents and non-resident property owners will be allowed free permits for each vehicle they own, which will be assigned to the vehicles and not transferable. In addition, property owners in the off-road section of the county will be allowed two additional permits for guests.

Owners of homes in a rental program that are beyond the North Beach Access Ramp will be able to obtain up to two permits per house at no charge, which can be used by renters.

People who don’t live in or own property in Currituck may purchase parking permits at the county’s tourism offices in Moyock and Corolla, County Manager Dan Scanlon said. Visitors will also be able to purchase the permits online, he added.

Although previous discussions of the ordinance included watching a video about the new rules prior to purchasing a permit, Scanlon said those wishing to buy a permit will simply be required to sign a statement saying they understand the parking ordinance.

Fees for the parking permits will be established during the county’s budgetary process, Scanlon said. County staff is currently working on a proposed fee schedule and should have recommendations in place before May 1, he added.

Exemptions to the parking permits will be granted to commercial fishermen, hunters, outdoor tour operators that have valid county-issued licenses for their businesses and are conducting an active tour at the time, along with contractors who are working for the county or on projects such as beach restoration or walkways and decks to the beach.

The passes would not be required of those who just want to sightsee in the four-wheel drive areas along and north of Corolla village.

Because the ordinance did not pass by unanimous vote at its first reading, it had to be voted on again Monday, and only required a majority to pass.


  • Tiny Cottage

    Does “property owners” include owners of building lots?

    Tuesday, Mar 6 @ 1:15 pm
  • surf123

    Whether you agree with fees being imposed for something that has always been free this is probably not the way to go about it. The concept of those driving not having to pay the fee is poor planning. People generally avoid paying fees and in this case expect the Carova area to turn into a parking lot. Might have to walk a little to get to the beach, but you won’t have to pay the fee. The only way to do this is for everyone to have to buy a permit and then use those funds to police the beach. This is the way the NPS does it and it works.

    Tuesday, Mar 6 @ 2:45 pm
  • Stacy Brown

    “The number-one issue is safety,” Commissioner Bob White said. “These roads are our roads. This is how I get home every day. If we don’t get control over the amount of traffic up there, we’ve got a very real problem.”

    However, it’s okay to keep building subdivisions on the mainland and adding traffic to an already crowded Caratoke Highway, which happens to be the road that I travel to get home everyday. A little contradicting in my opinion.

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 10:28 am
  • Part Time OBX'r

    This is so very shortsighted! This BS is not only unenforceable, but its impractical. Simply enforce the current rules of NCDOT roads and that will solve the issues.

    The ones driving aren’t the problem, those parked and enjoying the beach in the median of a state road are the issue. If safety of those randomly running out into traffic from behind or within cars is that big of a concern, then that’s why there are Sheriff patrols to ticket those pedestrians who don’t follow the current laws.

    I too would not be opposed to better upkeep of Sandfiddler from the reserve up to the border to divert the traffic off the beach during “peak” season. That would certainly eliminate 90% of the issues. JMO

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 11:09 am
  • Mark

    I have posted this question on Facebook. Would this pass be able to be used in hatteras also? Couldn’t there be a common pass for both the north and southern beaches?

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 3:16 pm
  • Sam Walker

    No. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is federally managed. Currituck beaches are managed by the county. There would be no “crossover” pass.

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 4:13 pm
  • Diane

    The safety issue is all the moving vehicles just riding up and down the beach all day, not the ones who stay parked for the day! How do you think you will solve the safety issue by charging parked vehicles?? How are parked vehicles dangerous?? As far as “These roads are our roads” is concerned, Rt. 12 is a state road paid for by every tax paying NC resident as well as everyone who buys gas.

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 5:09 pm
  • Pay to Park

    Paying to park at or near a beach along the east coast is typical. To be “fair” though seems if County is charging to park then a parking fee should be charged for all the parking areas in the county. Fees could support a few local jobs with collection booths and steep fines ( requires enforcement) for those who park overnight.

    Parking areas in Corolla, for example, are resources for vehicles in rental homes.
    And not sure how, if designated parking areas on 4wd beach, with or without fee, can address the goal. Parking should be limited to designated areas and like most other sea coast towns with a fee- and if a designated area is full then no parking

    Wednesday, Mar 7 @ 8:54 pm
  • james hansley

    i remember the days of pennys hill in the late 60s early 70s too bad we are at this piont in human history.. good luck and i hope everyone who thinks getting rich and over development enjoys what they created.welcome to new jersey ..too many people

    Thursday, Mar 8 @ 1:44 am
  • Getting Local

    Just another way to get money out of those that bring revenue to the OBX.

    How about moving the police from 158 & 12 intersection on Saturdays to Duck to limit the random crossing the Xing of 12 in Duck?
    This could help those visiting places north, to want to come back next year. Their important. Their helping fuel our OBX economy.

    Thursday, Mar 8 @ 11:11 am
  • Mr Lee

    Here is a suggestion that might help fix this problem. The county has made a land swap deal with the feds to obtain access through the refuge that is within the first mile and a half or to the first house you come to when you get on the beach. Go ahead and put a road on the back side of the dune up to the first house. At that point put up a fence just like the one at the present ramp. Make all the day trippers stay in that 1.5 mile area. That will ease stress on all the ocean front renters and give them more privacy. Only let county resident, property owners and people that rent a house north of the fence and their guest through. Of course vendors would get a pass to. Man a gate it would be cheaper than hiring more police and their vehicles. This would also cut down on the day trip clubs on the back roads cutting up in the big mud holes.
    Then we should pin up a bunch of the horses down where the ramp is now so more people could see them for free, just like Ocracoke. That would cut down on the large number of horse tour traffic. What do you think BOB,

    Thursday, Mar 8 @ 12:38 pm
  • Seal

    Just another reason for vacationers to go to VA. the fishing better there and thats a fact !!!!

    Thursday, Mar 8 @ 5:33 pm
  • Joan

    Just another reason to move from this area. The good ole days of going to the beach have just become another expense for residents of Dare County as well as Currituck Co.

    Friday, Mar 9 @ 10:12 am
  • Jeff

    I’ve been coming to OBX since 1985 and Corolla was my favorite spot as I could drive up to see the horses in their natural habitat. Then a bunch of beach houses got built and you can now see horses in town but this is not natural. This is a shame. Even more of a shame that some people have to ruin the beach access for others. If this is a result of an 4×4 club utilizing the beach and getting crazy, then stop the amount of vehicles allowed to group together.

    It used to be where you could have your quad on the beach. Then they started charging you for that. Now you can’t do that at all. They were banned because of some unruly people. I guess the cash cow is being missed. Let’s charge those who have 4wd. Then we’ll ban those and it will only be people who live or rent a house up above Corolla that can have access to a beach. The public beaches suck. I like to be at peace and not have to listen to radios blasting, couples fighting, kids screaming.

    This is a 40 minute drive from Kitty Hawk just to hang out on the beach, watch horses with your own vehicle. Then it’s 14 miles up to VA border on the beach.

    You guys who voted on this are ruining it just like the 4×4 clubs. I wonder if the horse tour businesses have pushed for this too? Nobody is going to pay $50 to set up on beach for one day. That’s crazy. If it was a day pass for maybe $10 that might not be as bad. You can identify the vehicles that way.

    I’ll just stay south of Nags Head.

    Friday, Mar 9 @ 4:16 pm
  • Surffshr

    yes but now people will just drive up and down the beach and not park. It would seem that a parked vehicle is less dangerous than people driving around site seeing?

    Monday, Mar 12 @ 1:32 pm
  • Dave B

    Unintended consequences: More mustangs being hit by cars. More cars getting stuck in the sand. More property damage. More drunk driving incidents. Less money coming in to the community.

    Thursday, Mar 15 @ 4:12 pm