Judge Confirms Public Right to Enjoy and Replenish Chesapeake Beach

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

​A judge today ruled that Chesapeake Beach is a public beach and the city has the right to put new sand on it to protect the homes behind it.

After a two-day trial in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr. ruled that the public enjoys a recreation easement on the beach, known locally as Chic's Beach, and the city has the right to maintain and protect the beach. Those rights arise from several decades of public use of the beach and city monitoring, tending and providing emergency services to the beach.

The judge confirmed that the public has the right to stroll, sunbathe and relax on the beach, and that the city may maintain and protect the beach as it does any other public area in Virginia Beach.

"This is a victory for all residents of Virginia Beach," City Attorney Mark D. Stiles said. "Evidence showed that Chesapeake Beach has been used as a public beach for many, many years. We are very pleased that Judge Padrick recognized the city's right to maintain the beach for all to enjoy."

In the wake of today's ruling, the city's Public Works Department will start designing the replenished beach and applying for permits from regulatory agencies. That will take several months. It is not known when replenishment will begin. The City Council has included a $6.4 million project in its six-year capital plan to restore Chesapeake Beach, but has not yet identified a source of funding for the project.

Chesapeake Beach extends about one mile along the Chesapeake Bay, from Joint Expedition Base Little Creek-Fort Story east to Joyce Avenue. Several property owners along the beach claimed that they own the beach and that the city must pay for the right to maintain it. Judge Padrick disagreed. 

Much of Chesapeake Beach suffers 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.

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