NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WAVY) – Officials in the Outer Banks want to spread the word about a new ordinance.
Nags Head town officials say they are having a growing problem with volleyball nets, umbrellas and tents being left on the 11 miles of beach overnight.
“It had become a substantial problem on the beach in Nags Head,” Nags Head Public Information Officer, Roberta Thuman said.
In October 2014, the Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that says any item left unattended on the beach between 8 p. m. and 7 a. m. is considered litter.
“It was just becoming very dangerous with the number of tent frames that were left on the beach overnight and we just can’t have our emergency personnel running into them when they are trying to save someone’s life,” Thuman said.
Signs posted on the lifeguard stands and even written on the rescue vehicles are helping spread the word.
If the litter isn’t removed, lifeguards will tag it, and then days later public works crews will throw it away.
A family of 17 from Pennsylvania says didn’t know about the change before getting in town on Saturday.
“We’ve been coming here for 20, 30 years and we’ve always kind of had the tent, leave it up overnight and what we typically do is take it back to where the dunes are and not leave it out on the beach,” Steve Talarico from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania said. “The first couple nights we complied and took the tent down but we noticed other people did not so we left it up last night.”
Talarico said they’d done that for convenience.
“When you have your five grandkids here with you and all their toys and all the things you have to lug back and forth it’s just a little more convenient to leave it set up. It’s kind of big so you need 2, 3 adults to kind of take it down and drag it back up,” Talarico said.
Amber Hardison of Columbia, North Carolina told 10 On Your Side, “I understand that it’s an inconvenience because I have a ton of stuff that I have to bring to the beach myself now with a kid, but no one can really and truly own the beach and so you can’t hold your place overnight it’s just not right.”
Hardison says she saw the new rule on the town’s Facebook page two weeks ago. “I think it’s a great idea. Just because I’ve come down to the beach at like 6 or 7 in the evening with my husband and my child and you see like the tents left on the beach and it looks gross. It looks bad,” Hardison said.
Town officials said they’ve been collecting about 20 unattended tent frames per week. That’s something they hope will stop.
“This will be the worst year because people that will come back next year will know [and] be aware of the ordinance and we expect the problem to decrease each year that the ordinance is in effect,” Thuman said.
If found violating the new ordinance, one could face a misdemeanor.