The five-year-long battle fought over North Carolina’s Currituck Lighthouse is now over thanks to an agreement worked out between the Currituck County Commissioners and the nonprofit Outer Banks Conservationists, the group that owns the historic lighthouse.
In a special meeting held this past April, the Currituck County Commissioners vote 3-0 (with 2 members absent) to accept the fact that the lighthouse is immune from the County land use regulations since the U.S. government has an interest in the structure.
The battle actually started when a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina tried to circumvent the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) by Congressionally transferring ownership of the lighthouse to the county government, which in effect would have taken the lighthouse away from the Outer Banks Conservationist (OBC) who spent $1.2 million to restore it.
This resulted in a long battle under the NHLPA between the nonprofit OBC and the county. Eventually OBC was awarded ownership of the lighthouse under the law, but the county continued to battle the OBC, a battle that cost the county an estimated $100,000 in legal fees and an undisclosed amount of money and resources of OBC.
The cost to fight this battle was high. And future costs to OBC will also be high, with the nonprofit having to pay an unprecedented 17% of its gross lighthouse revenue to the county’s Whalehead Preservation Trust to be used for upkeep and maintenance on the public restrooms and parking that are shared by the lighthouse and the adjoining Whalehead Club, which the county operates as a historic site and tourist attraction.
The agreement will also put the Executive Director of the Whalehead Preservation Trust as an ex-officio non-voting member of the OBC Board of Directors and the Executive Director of the OBC as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Whalehead Preservation Trust.
Signing the agreement Currituck County Commissioner Paul O’Neal said “Putting an end to the lawsuit and dispute with OBC is what’s in the best interest of Currituck County... I believe it’s time we get this issue behind us and move forward.” The lighthouse community couldn’t agree more.
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This story appeared in the
June 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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