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Myrtle Beach visitors get first taste of tent ban

By Amanda Kelley
akelley@thesunnews.com
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AMANDA KELLEY - akelley@thesunnews.com
Visitors from Fairmont, N.C., take down their tent and prepare to leave Myrtle Beach Monday, May 26, 2014, the day a ban on beach tents went into effect. The pair and their children sat covered until a lifeguard told them it was no longer allowed. North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach banned the canopy-style tents from May 15 to Sept. 15, and Horry County has a year-round ban on the structures. The county’s law took effect April 16.

There weren’t many beach tents in Myrtle Beach on Monday when the city’s new ordinance banning their use from Memorial Day to Labor Day took effect.

Donna Shadowan and Winnie Hodgson were visiting from Fairmont, N.C., and weren’t happy to hear of the new law. The pair and their children sat under a red beach tent near 16th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach until a lifeguard told them it was no longer allowed.

Nearby North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach banned the canopy-style tents from May 15 to Sept. 15, and Horry County has a year-round ban on the structures. The county’s law took effect April 16.

Lifeguards near Springmaid Pier, which is just outside Myrtle Beach, said Monday there haven’t been many issues with the new laws and said those who brought tents didn’t argue when informed of the ordinance. There wasn’t a tent in sight on that end of the beach Monday.

Shadowan said learning of the law after taking the time to set up the tent ruined her day.

“It’s nice to come out on the beach,” she said. “But we need the shelter. If you want tourists to continue to come here, you ought to let us have our way on some things like tents.”

Hodgson said the law won’t keep her from returning to Myrtle Beach, but she may not spend so much time on the sand in the future.

Next to Shadowan and Hodgson on the beach was Vince Matthews, in town with two women from Topsail.

Matthews was sitting under an umbrella reading a magazine and said he didn’t understand the problem with the tents and why his neighbors on the sand couldn’t use theirs.

“The less laws the better,” he said.

Area governments approved the bans ahead of the summer saying the tents can get in the way of safety personnel and that there isn’t enough beach along some parts of the Grand Strand to accommodate all of the large tent canopies.

The use of tents on the beach has surged in recent years, and rules for them that area governments put in place a few years ago weren’t working, which led to the bans, they say.

In each area with the ban, lifeguards and beach-patrol are trying to educate beachgoers since the laws are so new, city officials said.

Verbal warnings can be expected for violators. But those who continue to disobey the law could face a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said the court has set a $262 fine for a tent violation, which includes court costs.

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