Wrightsville’s registered voters will decide whether to ban smoking on the beach strand during a special referendum ballot on Nov. 6. That decision was unanimously made by the town’s board of aldermen during a special meeting on June 7 after an attempt to pass a resolution failed for lack of a majority vote.
Deliberating for 25 minutes, mayor David Cignotti and alderman Bill Sisson favored the resolution that would accelerate the adoption of an ordinance amendment; three members of the board, mayor pro tem Susan Collins, alderwoman Elizabeth King and alderman Darryl Mills opposed the resolution.
Prior to the vote, town manager Bob Simpson and town attorney John Wessell illustrated with aerial maps and verbal descriptions that areas of the beach strand would be impacted by a proposed smoking ban.
The enforcement area is defined by the North Carolina General Assembly legislation enacted in 1939 that grants the town jurisdiction over lands that extend east of privately held oceanfront property to the highwater mark, extending from Jack Parker Boulevard at the south end up to the Surf Club near the intersection of North Lumina Avenue and Crane Street. Since the 1939 legislation, Wessell explained, the same areas east of the oceanfront property lines to the highwater mark have been granted to the town by deed up to the southern edge of the Shell Island Resort property on the north end.
Wessell wrote the ordinance in accordance with the North Carolina General Assembly’s right to the town to prohibit smoking on what it called public grounds.
Public grounds, Wessell said, are defined in the applicable enabling legislation as property owned or controlled by the Town of Wrightsville Beach.
"Therefore, those areas owned by the town qualify as ‘public grounds’ and therefore the enabling legislation permits the town to enforce no smoking regulations within that area," Wessell said.