If you own ocean front property in Wrightsville Beach located between Masonboro Inlet and Heron Street, you should be aware of the existence of the 1939 property line and its impact on your property.
The 1939 property line was created by an Act of the North Carolina General Assembly in 1939 in connection with a beach renourishment project at Wrightsville Beach. The effect of this Act was to vest ownership of the property lying east or seaward of the 1939 property line in the Town of Wrightsville Beach. Ownership of the property lying to the west or landward of the 1939 property line was vested in the adjoining property owner. Thus the Act established the easternmost property line for those ocean front lots between Masonboro Inlet and Heron Street.
As a result of a law adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1985 and beach renourishments that have occurred since that time, some portion of the property east of the 1939 Property Line may be owned by the State rather than the Town.
The 1939 Act required the Town to prepare a survey of the property line and record that survey in the New Hanover County Register of Deeds. Such a map was prepared and recorded in 1939 and can be found in Map Book 3 at Page 71 in the Office of the New Hanover County Register of Deeds.
The existence of this property line affects your property primarily in two ways. First, the 1939 property line is a property line and therefore it establishes the eastern boundary of your lot. Some older deeds for lots adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean include in the legal description property extending to the high water mark of the Atlantic Ocean. Even though your deed may include such a description, the eastern boundary of your property is the 1939 property line.
Second, the 1939 property line establishes a property line from which any structure constructed on your property must be set back. The required setback is controlled by the Town's zoning ordinances. There is also a setback requirement imposed under the provisions of the Coastal Area Management Act. Whichever setback is more restrictive, that established by the Town's zoning ordinances or that established by the Coastal Area Management Act, will apply to any structure that you build on your property.
If you have any questions regarding the 1939 property line or if you would like to see a copy of the Act adopted by the General Assembly or the maps recorded in the Register of Deeds, please contact the Planning Department of the Town of Wrightsville Beach at 256-7937.