Town of Gibraltar Changes Course in Alibi Lawsuit

The Town of Gibraltar has dropped its lawsuit alleging that the Alibi Marina violated the town’s riparian rights when it built Pier 4 a quarter-century ago, but it’s not giving up its quest to have the dock removed. 

On Sept. 7, the town filed an amended complaint withdrawing its allegation that the pier violated the town’s riparian rights. It then filed an amended complaint asking that Pier 4 of the Alibi Marina be declared a public nuisance. The town originally filed suit April 8, seeking to have the pier removed or to bar the marina from docking boats on the east side of the dock.

The complaint alleges that Pier 4 is illegally located closer to the riparian zone boundary than is allowed by permit and that the marina routinely and repeatedly moors boats on the east side of the riparian zone boundary in violation of the permit. It also alleges that the marina maintains more mooring slips than are allowed by the permit. According to the town the Alibit’s practice of docking large, wide boats on the east side of Pier 4 impedes the town’s ability to safely use its dock.

A spokesperson for Northpoint Marina, the owner of Alibi Marina, said the permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources allows for 136 boats and 16 personal watercraft to be moored there, and that it has not moored more than the allowed number. 

In a written statement to the Peninsula Pulse, Northpoint Marina said it does not know why the Town decided to file suit against the Alibi Marina after more than two decades of operation. Northpoint also said that the record of the case to date indicates that there have not been complaints from users of the town dock. 

When asked, the town did not provide the Pulse any records of complaints received by users about Pier 4. However, the town provided an informational document about the lawsuit in which it said that for the majority of Pier 4’s existence the town dock was leased to one party, which coordinated directly with the Alibi regarding the use of the space between the piers. When that rental agreement ended the town became aware of the Alibi’s practices and their effect on the town dock.

David Harris, chair of the town’s harbor commission, said he could not comment on the specifics of the case but said the commission is “working very hard toward a mutually agreeable solution” to avoid further court action. 

The town is seeking an order requiring the marina not to exceed the permitted number of slips and that the pier be removed or, if not removed, that the marina be barred from mooring boats between Pier 4 and the riparian zone boundary. 

The suit stems from the town’s contention that Northpoint Marina, the owner of Alibi Marina, is using its easterly pier, known as Pier 4, for transient boat docking in a manner that inhibits the town’s access to its own dock that runs parallel to the pier. 

The town has alleged that the Alibi frequently uses Pier 4 to dock larger transient boats that are wide enough to infringe on the town’s riparian rights. The town argues that the practice makes it difficult for operators of pontoon and tour-boat rentals to use the town dock – an allegation Northpoint denies.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permitted Pier 4 in 1996, but the town alleges that permit was awarded in error. When Northpoint submitted plans to expand the Alibi Marina in 1996, Pier 4 was to be located 35 feet from the town’s riparian line. But before construction commenced, Northpoint requested approval from the DNR to build the pier 20 feet closer to the line – a change the DNR approved. The town alleges that this approval was made without informing any other interested parties or neighbors who could be affected by the construction. 

On Oct. 22, Northpoint filed a motion in Door County Circuit Court to dismiss the lawsuit.

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