Holden Beach pares down paid parking proposal in special called meeting

At the initial meeting, some had concerns about the location and price of the new parking
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 8:32 PM EST
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HOLDEN BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - No decisions were made Wednesday afternoon at the Holden Beach special meeting; however, leaders used the time to refine the paid parking proposal to be presented at a future meeting.

The meeting kicked off with a passionate crowd, and an hour’s worth of public comment sharing concerns about the plans.

The speakers at Wednesday’s meeting were not opposed to charging visitors to park; instead, they worried about the number of spots, their locations in residential neighborhoods and close to private beach accesses, where property owners were worried about trespassing and the safety of the families on the island.

The company the town of Holden Beach hired initially mapped out more than 900 potential parking spots and outlined their location in red on maps presented last week before commissioners.

“A lot of them are in spaces that there just should not be parking, no public beach access, the only way to go to the beach would be to trespass,” said Tom Myers, president of the Holden Beach Property Owners Association of the initial maps laid before commissioners. “A lot of them are on sensitive areas like the marsh behind me — people are concerned about it, the environment and protecting the environment. And there’s a lot of proposed right of way parking, which basically is in front of people’s houses, maybe on people’s yards.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the potential paid parking was cut down significantly to closer to 500 spots, as leaders went street by street deciding, during the lengthy work session, where spots would and wouldn’t be appropriate.

Right of ways in some residential areas close to private beach accesses, lots the town doesn’t own yet, and lots that would be deemed marshland were taken off the list of parking options.

They also changed the spots designated for compact cars on the maps to be strictly for LSV and golf cart parking.

Several Brunswick county beach towns have considered adding paid parking in the past, but Holden Beach would be the first beach town in the county to charge the public for street parking.

“The first one — the dominoes may fall. We know for sure that others are looking at it. Everyone’s evaluating because they’re all facing the same problem, which is the ‘off the island’ folks want to come onto the island, and they bring additional expense; there’s trash pick up, there’s policing, restrooms — we got the porta-potties out. So it’s only fair that those costs get shared with the people who use them,” said Myers. “Brunswick County is exploding; there’s just more and more people coming here, coming here because they wanna go to the beach. It’s just reconciling that situation in terms of how much parking can we allow before it starts to change the character of Holden Beach.”

Leaders anticipate the plan will take more time before it’s finalized and presented at board meetings in the coming weeks, which could be as early as the regular February meeting.

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