Beach Access vs. Private Property Rights in North Carolina

Monday, April 1, 2013 • 12:15 PM • Law School 3037Duke Law Events

J. David Breemer, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, joins the Federalist Society for a discussion of one of the hottest topics in North Carolina property law. Professor Salzman will provide a commentary. To what extent must private property ownership, use and development in coastal areas give way to public beach access rights as erosion moves the beach inland? In North Carolina, the Town of Nags Head claims that, when erosion moves the vegetation line landward of privately owned "dry beach" parcels, those lots instantly become open to public use and access under a "public trust doctrine" theory, and any pre-existing homes on the area are subject to removal as nuisances for inhibiting public beach access. No compensation is offered to the owners. No hearing is provided by the Town before they determine private dry beach areas are now public and homes on the area, illegal. Two cases currently being litigated by Mr. Breemer are pending in the 4th Circuit. For more information contact

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