Stanley retires from the practice of law, including 42 years as an Emerald Isle town attorney | New

EMERALD ISLE — Emerald Isle’s longest-serving employee will retire effective December 31.

City Attorney Richard Stanley, first appointed to the post in 1978, made the announcement recently, and city officials accepted his resignation during the monthly session of the board on Tuesday evening in the commissioners’ meeting room next to the police department.

The stewards praised him.

To characterize his tenure, consider that when Stanley began advising the city, Emerald Isle’s permanent population was well under 1,000. Now it’s nearly 4,000. Plus, there isn’t a single staff member or city commissioner who was in place in 1978 who is still around City Hall or in the meeting room today. today.

Emerald Isle was a vacation spot in 1978, sure, but there certainly weren’t 40,000 to 50,000 visitors in town during the summer. The politics were different, the meetings were longer and more acrimonious. The lawyer saw all the changes.

“I am retiring at the end of 2022 after 52 years of practicing law,” Stanley wrote in an email this week. “I was a town attorney for the Emerald Isle for 42 years and enjoyed every minute of it. I was appointed as a town attorney in 1978 and, with the exception of a two-year period around , I was a city attorney.

Stanley said he had “the pleasure of working with good mayors, commissioners and managers who made good decisions that made Emerald Isle a favorite family beach while keeping the tax rate very low”.

In addition to Emerald Isle, Stanley was at one time or another the attorney for Carteret County, Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, and the Carteret County Airport Board. He also served five terms as mayor of his longtime hometown of Beaufort. All the while he ran a successful private law firm.

Emerald Isle’s longtime mayor, Pro Tem Floyd Messer — he was first elected to the city commission in 2001 and became pro tem mayor in 2003 — has seen more of Stanley’s work and heard more of his legal advice than anyone currently involved in city government.

During Tuesday’s meeting, he said it simply: “Thank you for being my friend,” he told Stanley. “Thank you for being there all these years. You have been a great asset to our city.

“It’s a great city with great tenants,” Stanley said.

Looking back, he recalls two cases that “bring back good memories”.

In the first, State Senator Kenneth Royall “passed a bill banning vehicles on the beach at Block 52 (near Bogue Inlet), which was contrary to city policy and regulations that allowed vehicles with permits to operate on beachfront common areas. essentially between Labor Day and Easter,” Stanley noted in the email this week. “The city has filed a lawsuit challenging the law as being a special act contrary to the North Carolina Constitution and general laws, as it was only effective in a small area of ​​the Emerald Isle.

“We won at the local level and in the Court of Appeals, but lost in the North Carolina Supreme Court when it ruled that the General Assembly determines what is a special act and what is a general,” Stanley said. “Sen. Royal then had the law repealed so that we would return to the conditions as they existed before the case. I gained a great deal of respect for Senator Royal during this time.

The second case was even more significant, as it reinforced the right of the public and municipalities to use state beaches.

“Nies against the City of Emerald Isle and implicated the rights of private landowners to the ocean against the rights of the public to use public trust areas on the ocean,” Stanley pointed out. “While the Coastal Zone Management Act and the NC General Statutes set out the rights of the public to use areas of public trust, our NC courts have never ruled on the validity and extent of the doctrine of public trust.”

Gregory and Diane Nies, owners of beachfront residential land, sued to stop the city from using a 20-foot ribbon of dry, sandy beach in front of their home.

“This case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Stanley noted.

After six years of legal wrangling, in 2017 the Supreme Court refused to reconsider the case “and the opinion (2015) of the North Carolina Court of Appeals became the law of the land in North Carolina” , said Stanley. “It is well written and defines the rights of public trust.”

What’s next for Stanley? Why is he leaving his law firm after 52 years?

“I would love to travel, play golf, do church work and volunteer, slow down and not have to stick to a schedule,” he wrote in the email.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email [email protected]; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

Jon J. Epps