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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Wrightsville Beach considering approval of beach gear rental businesses

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After approved last month by the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board, the town’s Board of Aldermen could pave the way for more services that can deliver chairs, umbrellas and other beach supplies to renters.

On August 7, the planning board approved changes to the town ordinance that would allow rental services to deliver beach supplies to sites on the beach strand. The plannings board approval of the ordinance change comes after the town’s planning staff recommended the board reject the changes, raising concerns that the change will open up the beach strand to multiple vendors renting various equipment.

The change comes after a beach equipment rental business, Cape Fear Beach Rentals, petitioned the town for the change.

“There’s a demand for these type of services,” owner Ben Rhodes told the board. “It’s been well received.”

Rhodes said the business would drop off beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, coolers, towels and other equipment, where staff would set them up on the beach for the renters. At day’s end, staff would come collect the equipment and not leave it there overnight. The business would operate from a location in Wilmington and take the equipment to the client’s location. Rhodes said the business would not operate a cart or kiosk on the beach.

While the fire department expressed concerns about vehicles blocking fire lanes, Rhodes said that the set up would be quick and not require vehicles to block emergency lanes.

While the concept was enthusiastically endorsed by most of the planning board members, there were some concerns that it could lead to a proliferation of rental businesses on the island. However, some suggested that the town could limit the number of permits issued, with three being a potential cap on permits.

Currently, only the Blockade Runner, the Holiday Inn and Shell Island resort have permits to rent beach equipment.

Three people spoke in favor of the town granting approval for the business, with one suggesting that seniors who have difficulty moving gear onto and off of the beach would be particularly well served by the business model.
Rhodes also noted that the business helps with alleviate beach trash, as patrons will often leave chairs and umbrellas in the trash.

“Our business puts a stop to that,” Rhodes said.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen will consider the ordinance change at its next meeting on Sept. 13.

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