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Claremont looking to limit beach access

Claremont’s Town Council is looking to prevent non-residents from accessing the town’s public beach.

Per a draft ordinance that will go before a public hearing March 3, all residents wanting to use the town beach must possess a decal demonstrating proof of residency or ownership of real estate inside the town’s incorporated limits. Said decals would be available from the clerk’s office in Claremont’s Town Center during normal business hours.

The draft ordinance sets violation as a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable under Virginia law by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

Mayor George Edwards did not respond to a request for comments by press deadline, but had replied to a question on the Facebook group “Claremont Virginia-Creating Community” Feb. 17, in which he explained the ordinance was to address “too many people, not from Town” on the beach, whom he said were causing residents “trouble beyond belief.”

Rushmere Community Development Corporation President Rosa Turner, who operates an office in Claremont under the name Mathomank Village Tribe, said incidents of disorderly conduct have brought police to the beach on more than one occasion. Her organization is “in support of what the town is doing with the ordinance,” she said.

But in neighboring Isle of Wight County, which operates two county-owned beaches as public parks, Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said he was unaware of any provision in state law that would allow a municipal beach to exclude non-residents.

The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Claremont’s Town Center, followed by the regular scheduled Town Council meeting at 7 p.m. The Town Center reopened to the public March 1 after being closed throughout February due to “rising numbers of COVID cases,” according to an alert Claremont sent its residents using its Iris Alert mass notification system.