Kill Devil Hills, Greg Loy
Good Afternoon Mr. Botten,
I am writing on the proposed Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines as they refer to beach access rules for handicapped persons. Kill Devil Hills is an oceanfront resort in North Carolina with a history of providing access for the physically challenged. As I review these proposed rules, I am hopeful that our efforts to provide reasonable accommodations meet these guidelines.
The Town generally provides handicapped access from parking areas to the top of the dune. Where elevations permit handicapped access is provided from parking areas to the seaward toe of the dune. Challenges that preclude handicapped access to the water (and in many cases handicapped access to the sandy beach) include:
- NC Division of Coastal Management regulations prohibit destroying or excavating dunes and prohibit structures on the oceanfront seaward of the first line of natural stable vegetation. As I understand the proposed regulations, access will be required to the mean high water mark which is generally seaward of the first line of natural stable vegetation.
- Extreme grades (a dune profile may go from a 25-30' above sea level to sea level in less than 100' of beach width). Because of the grades and steep beach profile, this could require an access to be terminated in the water.
- Our tide range and beach profiles change throughout the year. Storm tides, daily tides and erosion create a dynamic shoreline. Unless a walkway slope ends at the seaward toe of a dune, these factors make it impossible to determine where a walkway landing might end.
- It is necessary that EMS, police, ocean rescue and public works travel up and down the beach to execute their required duties. If the Town were to provide access to mean high water, it could preclude or inhibit access for these crucial services.
Our sound accesses present similar challenges. For these reasons it seems unreasonable to require an accessible path where such conditions exist.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations.
PO Box 1719
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
252.449.5318 252.441.4102 fax