A group of HarborView homeowners wants to stop construction of what they allege is a commercial marina on their private property.
The PierHomes at HarborView Council alleges the marina would “unreasonably interfere” with the owners’ enjoyment of their homes, including the potential for sewage problems, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday week in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
“They never bargained for having a public, commercial marina literally outside their windows,” said Norman L. Smith of Fisher & Winner LLP in Baltimore, one of the council’s lawyers.
Fifty-eight of PierHomes’ 88 properties sit on two concrete piers that jut into the Inner Harbor south of the American Visionary Art Museum. Two floating boat slips were built in 2008 along with the pier properties, one between the piers and one south of southernmost pier, according to the complaint.
The boat slips have not been used since construction because they lack electricity, sewer and fire suppression systems, according to the complaint. Still, materials promoting PierHomes to prospective buyers advertised access to a “private marina,” according to the complaint.
“The adjacent boat slips were not planned or built to meet the needs of a commercial marina,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit alleges Baltimore Harborview Marine Center LLC, which operates the marina just south of PierHomes, obtained a construction permit last year to build the commercial marina based on easement rights, according to the complaint. Construction began in January over homeowners’ objections, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit lists multiple reasons a commercial marina would “devalue and change the nature” of residents’ properties in addition violating zoning laws. The walkways to the slips would be closer than 20 feet from residents’ windows, for example, according to the lawsuit.
“It is inevitable that noise from engines and onboard drinking and socializing — all common to recreational boating — will completely change the residential character of the PierHomes residences,” the complaint states.
The pier also has no parking in close proximity to the boat slips as required by city zoning laws, which the plaintiffs claim will lead to double-parking outside homes and create “noise, congestion and security issues,” according to the lawsuit.
And connecting the marina to the community’s sewer system would increase both the size of the system and the chances for unfortunate side effects, the lawsuit states.
“Whenever boats are connected to the system … there will exist the potential for the release of offensive odors which, particularly during the summer season, are unacceptable in a luxury residential development,” the lawsuit states.
Even without construction, the existing boat slips are 30 percent closer to PierHomes than the minimum distance permitted by the city’s fire code, while the homes’ windows and doors are not fire-rated, according to the complaint.
“The boat slips, which are located close to residences on three sides, create an unacceptable risk that if fire breaks out on any boat, it will quickly spread to other boats … and potentially to the residences,” the complaint states.
Kevin J. Pascale of Pascale Stevens LLC in Baltimore, a lawyer for Baltimore Harborview Marine Center, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The marine center is part of Baltimore Marine Centers, which operates five marinas around the Inner Harbor and is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Franklin C. Wise, who is listed in the lawsuit as BMC’s resident agent, did not respond to a request for comment. Wise is also listed as resident agent for defendant HV PierHomes LLC and is chief operating officer and general counsel for HarborView Properties Development Co., which built homes in the HarborView community.
The case is The PierHomes at HarborView Council v. Harborview Marina and Yacht Club Community Association Inc. et al., 24C15002565.