Suit comes after Civitas exposed harsh treatment of non-resident homeowners during virus crisis
People who own homes and pay property taxes on the Outer Banks but are permanent residents elsewhere filed a lawsuit in federal court April 7th, 2020 to order Dare County to re-open points of entry to the Outer Banks to non-resident owners.
The six plaintiffs, from Virginia, South Carolina, and Maryland use their property as second homes, and at times as beach and vacation rentals. As noted in a recent Civitas article:
“Non-permanent resident property owners are currently barred from accessing their land and homes in Currituck, Dare and parts of Hyde Counties.
Sheriff deputies are manning check points at the bridges leading into Dare and Currituck counties. They are checking proof of permanent residence including addresses on drivers’ licenses and checking for entry access permits. Citizens literally must show their papers to enter these counties. In Hyde County, state Department of Transportation ferry workers enforce the county’s restrictive entry into Ocracoke.”
The complaint, filed in North Carolina’s Eastern District, alleges that an estimated 20,000 non-resident owners, are currently deprived of the quiet enjoyment of their homes, although Dare continues to allow permanent residents to enter Dare, Currituck, Hyde and Tyrrell counties. Additionally, Dare County continues to allow permanent residents to freely leave and re-enter the Outer Banks, without regard to where the resident has traveled in the U.S., and without regard to physical contacts made. Dare County performs no temperature or fever check of incoming residents and makes no effort to ascertain the sickness or wellness of re-entering residents.
The plaintiffs in the suit are John Bailey of South Carolina, Paul and Sheryl Michael of Virginia, Thompson Brown of Virginia and Todd and Babette Edgar of Maryland.
The suit points out that the sole criteria for re-entry is possession of a NC driver’s license, and an address in one of the four counties. The plaintiffs assert that Dare’s actions deny them their constitutional rights, principally their right to travel freely, and their right to pass from one state to another, guaranteed to them under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
According to the filing:
“The illegal acts of Dare County deny the plaintiffs of their rights to due process, and constitute an illegal temporary taking of their property, and as a result, plaintiffs have requested the U. S. Federal District Court in Eastern North Carolina to issue an injunction ordering Dare County to re-open points of entry to the outer banks of NC to non-resident owners. Dare in times of a health crisis may only legally enact the minimum restrictions needed to protect the public health. In this case, the minimum restrictions are reflected in their adoption of the NC governor’s stay home order. Dare’s action to close road access goes far beyond the minimum restrictions needed to protect health and exceeds their authority. Dare County is the only known locality in the United States of America to close their roads to non-residents except a few NJ towns limiting sightseeing or casual visits.”
Bailey et al v. County of Dare, North Carolina
Case Number: 2:20-cv-00020-FL
Local residents have pointed out that medical facilities are in short supply on the hard to reach Outer Banks, so the strict ban on “outsiders” is necessary.
An issue addressed in the plaintiffs filing:
“Dare officials attempt to excuse their actions, claiming that they have a small hospital and no ICU, fearing an outbreak of the coronavirus. The county is located two hours from Hampton Roads, Virginia., and large advanced hospitals in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk. It is widely known that virtually every Dare resident and visitor travels to Hampton Roads for anything medically serious, and in all cases, anything requiring advanced care.”
The plaintiffs claim 61 percent of all counties in the U.S. have no hospital with ICU, so they claim Dare County is in the same position as most counties in the entire country.
The plaintiffs are represented by well-known Raleigh attorney Chuck Kitchen.
You can read the complaint in its entirety below.