By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on February 4, 2020
Originally scheduled to be heard in Dare County Superior Court on Feb. 3, the civil lawsuit filed by Bob Hovey in his campaign for public beach access in Duck has been continued to a later date – further delaying a decision on whether a walkway in Sand Dollar Shores subdivision belongs to the public or is the property of that community’s homeowners’ association.
The complaint, filed in August by Hovey and his wife Tanya, states that the Sand Dollar Shores homeowners’ association was “without authority to declare” the Sea Breeze beach access as common area for the exclusive use of its members. It also contends that the roads and easements in that neighborhood were dedicated to the public in 1981.
Hovey’s attorney, Gregory Wills, said a new court date was expected to be scheduled by the end of the week, adding that the continuation was at the request of attorney Casey Varnell, who is representing the homeowners’ association in the matter. Varnell did not respond to Voice attempts to reach him before deadline.
Owner of Duck Village Outfitters and a staple in the Outer Banks surf community, Hovey filed the complaint in Dare County Superior Court several months after being arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing last May when attempting to use the access at the end of Sea Breeze Drive.
A viral video of him being confronted by two angry homeowners at the time of the arrest helped push the issue of public access in Duck to the front burner. Soon after his arrest, Hovey launched a fundraising campaign that raised more than $13,000 toward legal efforts to secure public beach access in the municipality.
The August complaint also names the Town of Duck, arguing that the municipality “has the affirmative duty to protect the public’s right to use said easement instead of enforcing the HOA’s claimed right of dedication.”
“The case is still [pending] but we feel strongly that beach access in Duck will be an indisputable legal right in the very near future,” Hovey announced on his Facebook page on Monday.
The second-degree trespassing charge against Hovey is also pending. That case was continued in Dare County District Court last month. At that time, Hovey’s attorney in that matter, Angela Norcross, told the Voice that she and prosecutors had agreed to hold off on trying the criminal case until after the ruling on the civil suit. Norcross has said that Hovey planned to plead “not guilty” to the trespassing charge.