SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) - Less than a month after voting to ban cabanas on its beach, Sunset Beach has reversed course.
During its meeting Monday night, the Sunset Beach Town Council voted to reverse the earlier action and now will continue to allow cabanas on the beach.
After months of discussions, the town council voted to ban the cabanas from the beach by a 3-2 vote on Nov. 15. That decision angered residents and vacationers who use massive canopies for shade.
The ruling would change a beach goers daily routine. "We would go put our canopy up at 7 o'clock," said Sunset Beach resident Bill Page. "It just gave us a place to that we could retreat from the sun."
For owners at nearby canopy and cabana rental shops, it threatened to change their way of life.
"This is our living," said Milton Burns, owner of In The Shade Beach Canopies. "It would have been devastating as far as business concerns."
Burns said his concerns came from the dozens of phone calls he received from customers unhappy with the ruling.
"I had one lady call me up and she said 'Well how did it go' and I said 'Well they banned them.'" said Burns. "She said 'Well I'm from New York and I won't be coming down this year.'"
Luckily the concerns from residents, vacationers and business owners alike washed away with the tide. The town received over 300 emails on the cabana and tent ban, leading to the rule reversal.
"All of a sudden I'm back in the limelight man," said Burns. "I mean I love it, I'm happy again."
The reversal restored Burn's confidence that his business will stay afloat. At the same time it also gave Page good news for his most popular visitors. "I sent an email out to my family and all I've gotten is thumbs up," said Page. "Everyone is happy about it."
Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Scott originally voted to ban the cabanas but changed her vote Monday night.
Scott said she voted to ban the cabanas because of concerns about safety and overcrowding on the beach. After the council banned the cabanas, public outcry over the decision was evident on Facebook and in emails written to council members.
Scott took a closer look in to the issue and said the public outrage played a significant role in her decision to reverse her vote. But Scott said the discussion over cabanas is not over yet.
She said the council is looking at ways to amend the town's cabana rules, including how early in the morning cabana companies can sell their products, banning them during times of high tide and along already crowded parts of the beach.