City Files Petition to Document Public’s Rights at Chesapeake Beach

Friday, March 13, 2015

The City of Virginia Beach filed a petition in Virginia Beach Circuit Court today, asking the court to confirm that the public enjoys a recreation easement over Chesapeake Beach, known locally as Chic’s Beach, and that the city has the right to maintain and protect the beach. This action is a necessary precursor to any sand replenishment for Chesapeake Beach.


The city contends that these rights arise from the public’s longstanding use of the beach and from the city’s monitoring of, tending to and providing emergency services at the beach over many years. Chesapeake Beach extends approximately one mile along the Chesapeake Bay, from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to the western end of Sandy Bay Drive.


Many property owners along Chesapeake Beach agree that the public has long-standing rights to use the beach across their properties. Some, however, dispute the public’s right to use and the city’s right to maintain the beach. They contend the beach is private.


Much of Chesapeake Beach is suffering from significant erosion. The City hopes to protect the beach in the future, likely by partnering with the Army Corps of Engineers to place needed sand along the beach. The public’s right to use and the city’s right to maintain and protect Chesapeake Beach must be confirmed and documented before a sand replenishment project can move forward.  To make sure the court ruling is broad enough to cover the entire beach, the City has named as parties to the court action all property owners along Chesapeake Beach who have not previously signed a written acknowledgement of the public’s rights.  The City plans to work with these property owners to minimize any cost and inconvenience associated with the necessary court action. 


”Protecting Chesapeake Beach is essential to the protection of public and private structures in that area,” City Attorney Mark Stiles said. “The public has been enjoying Chesapeake Beach for decades. We are simply seeking to document the public’s rights.”