Florida marina fighting lawsuit to shut down

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With a signature pink crossmember on its Travelift, Molly’s Marine is best known for bottom cleaning and painting services.

With a signature pink crossmember on its Travelift, Molly’s Marine is best known for bottom cleaning and painting services.

Molly’s Marine Service has been at the same location in Naples, Fla., for 22 years and is one of the only boating service providers in the area. The company provides haulouts, painting, bottom cleaning, rigging and other services.

Late last year, residents who live south of Molly’s tried to force Naples to shut down the business, saying the yard hurts the value of their condominiums. One of their primary complaints is the noise and mess caused by the pressure washers that Molly’s uses.

“The city has told me that I’m in no violation of any ordinance,” Molly Strassel, who owns Molly’s Marine Service, told Trade Only Today. “My hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. By the time my guys get here, they’re not power washing until 8:30 or 9 a.m.”

She said the plaintiffs in what became a civil suit after the city refused to issue a cease and desist order also complained about Molly’s sandblasting. Strassel estimated that the company sandblasts about 20 boats a year.

The yard was originally owned by the Turner family, who sublet it to marine businesses. In 1998, the family sold the property. Today, there are privately owned dry stacks and in-water slips, plus the condominiums (built in the early 2000s) and Molly’s. Strassel said the plaintiffs are among some of the earliest condo owners.

“One of the stipulations when Turner and the developers went to the city and got approval was that it remain a working boatyard,” Strassel said.

Locals to show their support for Molly’s Marine.

Locals to show their support for Molly’s Marine.

Molly’s Marine Service occupies about 2 acres and has a Travelift and haulout slip. The company has 15 employees, but its impact on the local economy is much larger. “I’ve got well over 100 subcontractors and vendors who come in here regularly,” Strassel said.

She believes the suit came about because condo owners saw newer units being built in the area, and they started complaining about noise, dirt and dust, saying that the service facility was hurting the value of their properties. “They feel their property would be more valuable if there wasn’t a boatyard here,” Strassel said.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 11, and Strassel has collected more than 1,300 signatures in an online petition, as well as several hundred handwritten signatures in support of the yard. Strassel hosted an 8 a.m. photo and video shoot for supporters.

Strassel said that because the city has told the plaintiffs that the marina is in compliance, the suit has been reworded, calling Molly’s Marine Service a nuisance that is diminishing property values and keeping them from selling their condo units. Her attorney is in the process of responding again.

In addition to local backing, Strassel said she’s receiving support from the marine industry, including MarineMax and Galati Yacht Sales. “Nobody wants to see this go away,” she said.

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