The Town simply doesn't want to deal with this - they have been "sticking their heads in the sand" on this issue forever - continually kicking it down the road.
That said, the town was incorporated after all of these communities were built on private land, so there wasn't any land left to acquire for any sort of public beach access. As the Court's opinion said, if Mr. Hovey want to go to the beach, there are plenty of public accesses elsewhere. There's no "right" to access the beach (or sound) in a specific location or town. Private property rights prevail.
He could also walk out the door of the oceanfront home he owns in Kitty Hawk. This isn't about beach access for him - it's all about the money. He owns a rental home and a business in Duck. He is not a resident. He purchased the house in a subdivision in Duck knowing it didn't have beach access. The home prices in this subdivision were lower than those in neighboring subdivisions which had beach access. That's on him - you cant have it both ways; either you pay more for beach access or you don't - but don't expect the spoils.
The overwhelming majority of landowners in Duck, through a survey a couple of years ago, said that beach access was not an issue. That's the way it goes - the Town is representing their landowners. All the people making a big deal of out of this don't even live in Duck - nor ever travel to Duck. They're claiming that people are going to get arrested for using these beach accesses - nothing is further from the truth. There are no guards or checkpoints, people come and go as they please.
There are some (a tiny minority) of homes in Duck which do not have beach access, but they use these beach access owned by other HoAs, including the one in dispute. The majority of these homes are rentals, so the owners and management companies are using the access owned maintained by others to make money - tha'ts a real sore point for some.
There has only been one person arrested for using this or any access in Duck, and it's because he bullied, provoked, and bothered the homeowners and disregarded numerous police warnings. They had had enough. If he just shut up and used the access as any normal person would, nothing would have happened.
Its really amazing to read all the comments on social media about this. The complete lack of understanding about the whole situation, how our legal system works, how beach nourishment is funded, etc. Statements like the HoA bribed the judge (they lost the original lawsuit, and the appeals court is a panel of judges), people were paid off, the appeals court had no "right" to overturn the initial verdict, the Duck residents and landowners have no property rights because, well, just because, is confounding. I guess it's easier to make stuff up then to face the facts on something that you don't like.