NC Court of Appeals hears Emerald Isle property battle case

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The North Carolina Court of Appeals will issue an opinion on an Emerald Isle property dispute between the homeowners and the town.

Greg and Diane Nies say they are looking for compensation from the town’s use of the beach in front of their home. The town disputes the claim.

An attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation argued on behalf of the couple in front of the court on Monday.

Attorney J. David Breemer says the town is using a slice of their oceanfront land and driving beach patrol cars and ATVs on the dry sand on the couple’s property.

“They drive up and down their property all day long–ATVs, garbage trucks, police vehicles, beach patrol park there,” said Breemer. “They also issue permits and are making money.”

Breemer says the public permits helped the town rake in $87,000.

“They’re using the Nies property as a cash cow,” said Breemer. “The argument simply is if you want a road on my land you have to pay for it.”

Emerald Isle Attorney Brian Edes disputes the claim of trying to make a driving lane. He says the two ordinances in the case are a beach equipment restriction and a beach driving regulation.

Edes says a state statute gives them the right to regulate beach driving and therefore issue permits.

He says part of having beach patrol drive on the sand just puts responders where they might be needed.

Edes says the town wants an orderly and safe beach so that members of the beach not just those living on the ocean front enjoy the land.

“The two town ordinances at issue are designed to promote an orderly and safe beach and absolutely there’s no intention to impose upon anyone’s property rights,” said Edes.

The court is expected to issue its opinion in the coming months.

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