After months of pushing to ban tents along Surfside Beach, officials have finally decided to repeal the ban that went into effect in April.
At a town council meeting Tuesday evening, council members unanimously voted to allow tents on the beaches as long as they are backed up to the emergency lane that leaves eight feet of space from the dune line.
“I think this is a win win for everyone,” Mayor Bob Childs said. “Those who want the tents are going to get that. Those who want the clear view will get that.”
Tents are required to be six feet apart from each other, leaving room for emergency vehicles, and will be allowed from Melody Lane to U.S. 17 North.
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Tents will not be allowed within 25 feet of a beach access, and must be at least 150 feet from a pier. Beach service personnel will keep track of the space between tents.
“Our beach services personnel, they do an excellent job,” Surfside Beach Police Chief Kenneth Hofmann said. “It would be a huge challenge to maintain this without beach services staff.”
Members are still debating how to mark the space so that beachgoers know how far apart tents should be set up.
While Hoffman did say that the space allotted for emergency vehicles is large enough for the vehicles, the six feet between tents is “not ideal.”
“I think the beach was safer without tents,” Hoffman said. “I’d like to see compromise and I think this is a really reasonable compromise. My staff and I will do everything to make it work if it’s in the best interest of the town.”
In April, officials voted to begin the ban on tents immediately from 8th Avenue South to the southern end of town. The ban for the rest of the beach was set to begin Jan. 1.
Councilman Tim Courtney, who originally proposed the ban said in April, said: “The amount of beach that we have [in that section] is we have practically no beach on a mean high tide.”
At that time Courtney, Childs and Councilmen Randle Stevens and Ron Ott voted in favor of the ban. Council members Mark Johnson, Julie Samples and David Pellegrino opposed the proposal.
In the original proposal tents were required to be at least 10 feet apart. The ordinance did allow smaller “baby tents” for young children as well as umbrellas.
Now, tents will be allowed between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. but cannot block lifeguard stands.
Surfside is the only area of the Grand Strand that allows tents on the beach.