Alleged ‘Floating Junkyard’ Sparks Lawsuit

NORFOLK, Va. (CN) – A waterfront property owner fed up with his neighbor’s “floating junkyard” of decaying cargo ships says in a lawsuit that it’s time for the offender to shape up or ship out.
     In a complaint filed in Norfolk Federal Court on May 22, Carmelo Gomez, owner of 307 Campostella LLC, says he has been asking neighbor Timothy Mullane to clean up the clunkers since 2013.
     According to Gomez, Mullane “has overcrowded the waterway with unseaworthy hulks of former vessels, many 60-70 years old, many of them sitting idly for years, many of them aground for years, rusting and having little or no use.”
     Because Mullane has overextended his mere one acre parcel of land all the way across the river and onto Gomez’ neighboring 6.8 acres, Gomez says his once-valuable waterfront property now occupies an area which local government authorities call “the worst cove” in Norfolk.
     “The unlicensed pier/storage facility used by Mullane and his co-defendants is a 200′ by 50′ structure formerly a Hopper Barge (but no longer a vessel), that they use as a pier. The site for this 10,000 square foot pier-like structure has never been designated by any government official as a mooring location,” Gomez claims. “The defendants are essentially squatters in that they do not own the property they occupy… nor do they have permission from the landowner to operate on that property.”
     In addition to being an “eyesore and blight,” Mullane has received several environmental violations for his “unseaworthy” fleet including three criminal convictions for release of hazardous and flammable waste and an array of penalties from the Norfolk Wetlands Board as well as the State Water Control Board for destroying wetlands and discharging industrial stormwater into the river, Gomez says. Mullane’s rusty hoard of ships still encroaches on protected wetland areas and continues to pollute the river with hazardous materials, Gomez claims.
     Gomez is suing Mullane for eight counts of environmental and civil violations including unpermitted obstruction, nuisance and violations to the Clean Water and Waste Management Acts.
     He is represented by James T. Lang of Pender & Coward.
     Patrick Brogan, an attorney named as a co-defendant in the suit, would not speak to Courthouse News and neither Mullane nor his businesses could be reached by email or phone number.

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