The NC Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Nies v. Emerald Isle case on January 10, 2017, and is expected to issue its decision later this winter or spring. The Court's decision could have a profound impact on the public's use of beaches everywhere in North Carolina in the future.
The ultimate questions in this case are 1) whether the public has, and has always had, the right to use the entire width of the flat, dry-sand beach in North Carolina, and 2) whether or not an oceanfront property owner has the right to exclude others from the entire width of the flat, dry-sand beach. The area in question in this case involves only the flat, sandy beach between the base of the dunes and the ocean --- the area that has been enjoyed by the public everywhere in North Carolina, forever. The case does not involve any portion of oceanfront property located landward of the base of the dune.
This case was first initiated in 2011, and thus far the Town has prevailed in Carteret County Superior Court and the NC Court of Appeals. The NC Court of Appeals ruling affirmed the public's access to and use of the entire width of the flat-sandy beach, from the base of the dunes to the water, and is now the definitive law on this issue in North Carolina. The Nies have appealed the NC Court of Appeals ruling to the NC Supreme Court, and the upcoming decision of the NC Supreme Court will eventually become the definitive law in North Carolina when issued.
The Town of Emerald Isle, with great support from many other interested parties, has been working hard to preserve the public's right to access and use the entire width of the flat, sandy beach in North Carolina. To learn more about this seminal case, please visit the links at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/nies .