DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — A lawsuit has been settled between Dare County and six out-of-state, non-resident property owners over restricted access to the county during part of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to an attorney for one plaintiff, the settlement — which was established June 18 — includes a provision that non-resident property owners will be treated the same as resident property owners in the event of a public health emergency, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
The county will also pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys fees, which total $16,500, per the attorney.
“The Plaintiff nonresident property owners are pleased with the settlement as they had sued for not being treated the same as resident property owners in that they were not allowed to go to their property in Dare County even though resident property owners were. This was alleged by the Plaintiffs to be a violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution,” attorney S.C. Kitchen, who represented plaintiff John. Bailey, wrote in an email Monday.
As long as the settlement is fulfilled, the lawsuit must be dismissed by Aug. 31, 2020.
“This settlement shows that the Constitution is still in effect even in a pandemic,” Kitchen said of the settlement.
Dare County closed to non-resident property owners on March 20, after originally declaring a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus on March 16, to help limit the number of people in the county and prevent the spread of the virus.
Dare County lifted COVID-19 restrictions and reopened in phases to non-resident property owners starting May 4. Restrictions on visitors to Dare County were lifted May 16.
The plaintiffs, from Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina, claimed the resolution adopted by Dare County was unconstitutional and they should be able to enter the county right away to prepare their properties for the spring and summer season.