Touted by the town as one of many steps needed to recover from 2020’s Hurricane Isaias, right-of-way parking along 69th Place West was refurbished early this year. Compacted gravel filled a leveled roadway; signs and bright yellow stops clearly directed drivers to park in more than a dozen assigned spaces on the west side. Other signage prohibited parking along the east side.
The parking management matters in part because 69th Place West is the closest public street that connects West Beach Drive to Kings Lynn Drive, both popular places to enjoy either the ocean or the marsh side of the Point, the western end of Oak Island and the beginning of the Lockwood Folly River inlet. The public lots on both sides are often filled on temperate days, and right-of-way parking is mostly banned along Kings Lynn Drive and that portion of West Beach Drive.
The 69th Place West area was used as overflow parking in a popular place.
Now the parking is gone, unless drivers chose to run over landscape edging, an irrigation system and golf course-quality sod, or intrude upon four driveway pads that lead only to a fence.
What happened is the subject of legal action between the town and the property owner. In April, town council rejected a request by the owner that would have pressed the envelope for the size and scope of a residential property.
Council unanimously rejected a special use permit for a 4,980-square-foot house at 6906 West Beach Drive. It would have included three bedrooms, five bathrooms, two meeting areas, a workout room and nearly 3,000 square feet of decks and porches flanking an amphitheater-like central stairway. One member of council said the plan also included a helipad, although that feature was not shown on official drawings.
In April, council members stated they did not believe the proposed structure would be in harmony with the area.
Billed as a three-bedroom residence, town staff determined it required seven off-street parking spaces, which the applicants stated were provided. Houses that exceed 4,000 square feet must have a special use permit.
“Someone associated with the property owner removed the parking signs and the bumpers and put them on the other side of the road,” said Mayor Ken Thomas in a recent telephone interview. “They also put in edging, sod and irrigation …This is a legal problem.”
Thomas said he hoped to see clearly defined public parking spaces in the right of way returned as soon as possible.
“This is an intrusion into the right of way,” Thomas said. “The town will bill them for putting the signs (and parking stops) back.”
Eric Remington of the Ward and Smith law firm, attorney for the property owner, did not return requests for comment made by email and voicemail.