Reprinted from Outer Banks Voice
The second-degree trespassing case against Duck Village Outfitters owner Bob Hovey, who was arrested in late May for attempting to use the Sea Breeze beach access in Duck, has been continued until a higher court can rule on who ultimately owns the property Hovey was attempting to use in the Sand Dollar subdivision.
The trespassing charge, a misdemeanor, was scheduled to be heard in Dare County District Court on Dec. 17. But Hovey’s attorney, Angelea Norcross, told the Voice that she and prosecutors agreed to hold off on trying the criminal case until after a Superior Court ruling in her client’s civil suit in February. In that suit, Hovey claims the beach access in question is public property.
As far as the criminal case, Norcross said Hovey is pleading “not guilty” to the trespassing charge.
While Norcross said the majority of trespassing cases are cut and dry, she added that in this case, “There’s a genuine issue of fact and law as to whether that walkway to the beach is public or private. Since the Superior Court judge has to make that decision, having a criminal trial now is not expeditious…it’s sort of a waste of time.”
District Attorney Andrew Womble concurred with Norcross, telling the Voice that the continuance was “because there are issues that need to be ironed out on the civil side. We don’t want the criminal case to impact the civil case,” he asserted.
Hovey’s arrest and his subsequent crusade for public beach access in Duck has drawn considerable public attention and has since sparked a larger community debate over the absence of public beach access in the northern Outer Banks town. A viral video of Hovey being confronted by two angry homeowners as he attempted to use the beach access also helped put the issue on the front burner.