Leaving nets up questioned

Jordan Cheatham (from left), Cameron Dyson, Alison Motroni and Justin Cook play a friendly game of beach volleyball Thursday behind the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms. The Windjammer has three courts out on the beach and one right behind its building.

ISLE OF PALMS — The city says it isn't trying to spike beach volleyball, but it wants to take a look at whether leaving nets and supporting poles up overnight is legal.

"We are going to try to do what we can to work this out. We're trying to be good stewards of our beach and keep it safe," said City Administrator Linda Tucker.

Someone complained to police about volleyball nets left overnight in front of the Windjammer nightclub, and police contacted club owner Bobby Ross to discuss the situation.

Beach volleyball has been a tradition associated with the Windjammer for more than 30 years, Ross said. On Thursday, Ross said he is optimistic the situation can be resolved. "I really honestly think it's going to be taken care of," he said.

Two nets were up on the beach in front of the club on Thursday. Ross said it's not practical to uproot the supporting net posts at night, take them off the beach and put them back out in the morning because the poles are so firmly dug into the ground. However, he said the nets could be moved on a nightly basis.

Ross said he did not know who complained about the volleyball nets. The nightclub also has a volleyball net set up on sand behind the dune line that is apparently not affected by the situation.

Tucker said the issue is whether the volleyball nets and supporting posts fall within the framework of the ordinance governing things left on the beach overnight. For that reason, the ordinance is being re-examined to clarify the situation, she said.

"No one is wanting to see the tradition have to come to an end," she said. She said the situation is an "unintended consequence" of the ordinance, which may need to be refined. However, it is a reasonable concern that someone walking or running on the beach might run into one of the volleyball net poles, she said. For that reason, reflectors could be put on the poles. Another issue is whether the volleyball poles are an impediment to nesting sea turtles. Conservationists have said that's not the case, she said.

Last June, City Council passed the ordinance that may affect beach volleyball equipment being left out overnight. It was intended to address the problem of tents, chairs and coolers left overnight on the beach that wash into the surf. Tent poles break and become jagged at the ends.

"They actually can impale someone," Tucker said. So far, no one has been seriously injured, she said. Police removed at least two shade tents from the beach on Thursday morning after tagging them the night before, she said.