Local News

Lighthouse Move Continues Despite Latest Legal Challenge

Posted March 14, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— The debate over whether to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has put the landmark in the spotlight more than ever.

With construction efforts already underway at the site, most people probably think the debate is over. But some Dare County leaders, citizens and business owners still want to stop the effort to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

On Monday, that debate once again landed in front of a federal court judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle listened to both sides and took the entire matter under advisement. He gave no timetable concerning a decision.

For now, the effort to move the lighthouse continues. But those against the move continue their fight.

"Yes we can. We can probably stop the project, but you know, whether it is stopped remains to be seen," says opponent John Hooper. "But I think at least we got our local voice heard."

Inside the courthouse in Elizabeth City, Judge Boyle apparently didn't appreciate the tone of some of those voices.

He told the anti-move forces "You've had eight or nine years to present this claim. Why did you sit on your hands?" The judge also said the suit looked like a public relations opportunity.

Rudy Renfer, the attorney for theNational Park Servicehad little to say, but it was tough to hide his confidence.

"It's court, and you never can tell how things will go," he says.

The judge took the matter under advisement and work on the big move carries on. If it is a big job to move the lighthouse, it is probably a bigger job now, to try to stop it.

"We may not have pursued this like we should have right off at the start," says opponent John Couch. "But then again, we have to protect our way of life down there and this is an issue that does have ramifications on our way of life."

The judge had some harsh words for those who wanted to stop the lighthouse move, but he pointed out at the end of the hearing that he would still take a fair look at their complaint.

That complaint centers on possible damage to the environment.