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North Myrtle Beach says tents can stay

By Janelle Frost
jfrost@thesunnews.com

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Beachgoers can continue to enjoy the shade from their tents on North Myrtle Beach's beaches, with some restrictions.

The North Myrtle Beach City Council passed an ordinance Monday night that allows tents and other beach-related equipment on the beach under certain rules.

Those rules require beachgoers to remove tents and umbrellas between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.; place any shading devices except umbrellas behind the city's umbrella line or behind the high tide line in the absence of a city-established umbrella line; make sure shading devices, except umbrellas, are 10-feet apart from one another, are not larger than 12 feet by 12 feet, are no higher than 9 feet installed, and are not tied together.

Also, no anchoring line can extend beyond the perimeter of a tent or shading devices.

People who leave items on the beach would have to pay a $40 fee to reclaim them from the city's storage yard within a 30-day period.

If the items are not claimed within 30 days, they will be disposed of by sale, auction or charitable donation.

Anyone who violates the ordinance will have to pay a $250 fine.

Council members and public safety officials have said that the tents block lifeguards' views, obstruct the pathway used by emergency vehicles and make it harder for beachgoers to see lifeguard stands.

Instead of banning the tents as council members initially voted to do earlier this year, they decided to implement the restrictions, and see if they work. Some council members and several residents have said they are in favor of a total ban on tents.

"We got a good compromise," Councilman Bob Cavanaugh said about the ordinance passed Monday.

Councilwoman Doris Williams - the sole member to vote no - still has concerns over the ordinance not specifically addressing sailboats on the beach.

City Attorney Chris Noury said the ordinance does not particularly address sailboats because if it did it could affect the city's federal funding for beach renourishment.

To avoid risking that, he plans to ask for the attorney general's opinion on the issue, Noury said.

City Manager Mike Mahaney said city officials should wait to discuss the issue further "after appropriate legal research and the attorney general's opinion.

"It's two separate issues," Mahaney said. "This has to do with shading devices and regulation."

Council members agreed and voted in favor of having a workshop at a later date to address sailboats and catamarans.

Mayor Marilyn Hatley said city officials should have a response from the attorney general by January.

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