Town of Emerald Isle Statements Re: Nies v. Emerald Isle

Emerald Tidings – August 2016:     http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/emerald-tidings-newsletter-aug2016


Response to Carteret News Times Guest Column by Nies Attorney – August 2016:       http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/Data/Sites/1/media/pdfs/legal/response-to-breemer-guest-column-in-news-times-1.pdf


2nd Response to Carteret News Times Guest Column by Nies Attorney – August 2016:

Read the Court of Appeals Ruling Yourself to Truly Understand What Beach Case is About
by Frank A. Rush, Jr., Emerald Isle Town Manager

Rather than debate J. David Breemer, the Nies’ attorney, on the pages of the Carteret News-Times about the significance of the Nies v. Emerald Isle case, the Town invites your readers to read for themselves the Court of Appeals decision. The ruling is crystal clear that the public has the right to use the entire width of the beach, from the base of the dunes to the water, as has been the practice everywhere in North Carolina - forever. It is this decision that Mr. Breemer is appealing to the North Carolina Supreme Court. This unanimous ruling can be viewed at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/nies .

The Town of Emerald Isle, with great support from numerous other State and local officials, business groups, environmental groups, and public access advocates, continues its fight to preserve the public’s right to use the entire width of the beach in North Carolina. Again, ask yourself why all of these groups would be involved in this case if it was only about the Nies and only about Emerald Isle?


Response to News & Observer Guest Column by Nies Attorney – September 2016   

What NC’s beach case is really about: public’s age-old rights
By Frank A. Rush, Jr., Emerald Isle Town Manager

In a recent op-ed piece, David Breemer, the California attorney for Gregory and Diane Nies, retirees from New Jersey who are suing our coastal North Carolina town of Emerald Isle, mis-portrayed their lawsuit’s highly significant threat to the public’s right to reach and use North Carolina’s beaches as a harmless response to dastardly “government overreach.” That’s not true.

As elsewhere, Mr. Breemer attempts to distract The News & Observer’s readers from the true facts of the case and its potential harm to the public’s traditional right to access and use North Carolina’s beaches going forward – as anyone can see for themselves by reading the N.C. Court of Appeals’ unanimous, bipartisan decision in the case last year, available online at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/nies.

The appeals court’s ruling is crystal clear that the public has the legal right to use the entire width of the beach, from the base of the dunes to the edge of the ocean, as has always been the practice everywhere in North Carolina.  It is this decision that Mr. Breemer is appealing to the N.C. Supreme Court, which still could dismiss the case – and should.

As you read the Court of Appeals’ ruling, several key points become clear:

  • The only area in question in this case is the flat, sandy beach, from the base of the dunes to the water, not the land between the Nieses’ $1.3 million vacation home and the sand dunes.  This is the same area that the public, including the Town, has accessed and used everywhere in North Carolina “since time immemorial,” in the words of the appeals court.

  • The public’s right to access and use the full beach has always existed in North Carolina, and the Town simply seeks to preserve that historical use for current and future generations. The Town seeks nothing more than what has been practiced in Emerald Isle and in every beach community in North Carolina as long as our state has existed – to preserve the public’s right to access and use the entire width of the beach, to keep the beach clean, and to promote safe and efficient response by emergency responders on the beach to help those in need.

  • Recognizing that the public and the Town have always had the right to access and use this area of the beach, neither the Town nor anyone else should have to compensate the Nieses or other oceanfront property owners to maintain this ancient right. If the public already has the right to use the beach, then exercising that right can’t be a “taking.”

    If the Nieses prevail, and are deemed to be due government compensation to preserve the public’s right to use the entire width of the beach, then thousands of other oceanfront property owners in North Carolina would demand the same taxpayer tribute, which is unreasonable. The taxpayers of North Carolina should not have to pay for something they’ve had the right to use forever.

    As the appeals court said last year in ruling against the Nieses, “the public right of access to dry sand beaches in North Carolina is so firmly rooted in the custom and history of North Carolina that it has become part of the public consciousness.”

    The Nieses may claim that they don’t want to prevent people from enjoying the beach, but they have contended in legal filings that they have the right to determine who uses the flat, sandy beach in front of their vacation home, and for what purpose.

    Imagine the implications if they prevail: Perhaps they will allow older people, but not younger people. Perhaps they allow surfers but not fishermen. Perhaps they allow beach visitors without music, but not those with a radio. Perhaps they get along well with their neighbor across the street, but not the neighbor on the 5th row from the beach – and on and on – on pain of trespassing.  Now multiply that by the thousands of other oceanfront property owners in North Carolina making those same personal judgments about who can use our beaches, and consider the chaos and inequity that would ensue. 

    Fortunately, the citizens of North Carolina and the Town of Emerald Isle have received strong support from Governor McCrory’s administration, Attorney General Cooper, the governing bodies of every oceanfront county and municipality in North Carolina, business groups, environmental organizations, tourism champions, and other public access advocates as we fight to preserve the public’s right to use the entire width of our state’s beaches, from the base of the dunes to the edge of the ocean.

    All these groups would not be involved in this case if it were only about the Nieses and Emerald Isle. They’ve interceded at their own expense because the stakes are enormous for North Carolina, as the Nieses’ own appeal to the state Supreme Court acknowledged.

    “This case involves issues of incredible importance to the people of this state and to government entities, including the state itself,” said the appeal, which Mr. Breemer wrote for them. “These issues affect the expectations, rights, and finances of property owners, the public, and government.”

    That’s the one thing he’s right about.