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Property owners sue Dare County for keeping them out during COVID-19 restrictions

People from a few states filed a federal lawsuit. They aren't full-time residents, but they own property in Dare. Visitor restrictions are keeping them out.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Six people from Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina said Dare County is keeping them from their properties illegally. They filed a federal lawsuit to change that.

Their complaint, which they filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Northern Division on April 7, claims that the county violated their rights when it restricted visitor access to fight the spread of COVID-19.

County officials decided to set up checkpoints in March. Beginning then, only full-time residents were allowed into Dare County. That group of people had to have updated permits or other proper identification to gain access.

RELATED: Dare County restricting visitor access because of coronavirus

The county later went a step further and issued its own stay-at-home order for residents. Statewide, there is at stay-at-home order that Gov. Roy Cooper issued.

RELATED: Dare County officials declare stay-at-home order for residents

The complaint says that in addition to violating the constitutional rights of the property owners, the county also did not follow its own procedures in putting a restriction, such as the one it did, into place.

Some of the plaintiffs use their properties as rentals. Others say they are second homes. 

Three of the people live in Virginia: E. Thompson Brown and Paul W. Michael, Jr. and his wife, Sheryl S. Michael.

Collectively, all six plaintiffs say that being kept out of Dare County has caused them suffering and would continue to do so.

All six asked a judge to put an end to the access limitations and to award them "nominal damages" against the county plus attorney's fees and costs.