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Criticism muffled when Harley dealership rolls in

Published March 15, 2007


WESLEY CHAPEL - They have protested a Salvation Army thrift store, a car dealership and a small airport in their neighborhood.

But when it comes to a Harley-Davidson dealership, some residents of the Lexington Oaks golf community are not so concerned.

"These are bikes that start at $25,000," said Janine Tsvetkov. "This is not a Salvation Army thrift store. People who ride these bikes are police officers, proprietors, physicians. ... I prefer a Harley-Davidson dealership to a Hyundai dealership."

That would be good news to Gulf Coast Harley-Davidson, a venture of the Ferman family of auto dealers. Gulf Coast is planning the 33,332-square-foot motorcycle dealership just north of where County Road 54 joins Old Cypress Creek Road. The proposal is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on April 11.

Gulf Coast also wants to build an unnamed 3,500-square-foot restaurant on the site, according to plans filed with the county. Frank Chunn, a Ferman vice president in charge of real estate, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

The Harley dealership is going in on the same stretch of road where residents, including community activist Cass Peters, have criticized the thrift store and other dealerships, including the Ferman Pontiac-Buick-GMC on State Road 54. But on Wednesday, Peters said she had no comment when told about the plans for the Harley dealership.

Some - though not all - neighbors said they feared the kind of people and truck traffic a Salvation Army thrift store would bring.

In 2005, Lexington Oaks residents also railed against a Hyundai-Mazda dealership on CR 54. In 2004, they protested an expansion of "noisy flights" at the Tampa North Aero Park on the same road.

Residents may renew their protests today against the Salvation Army thrift store, when the county's top staff planners make their decision on the proposal.

Chuin-Wei Yap covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at 813 909-4613 or

[Last modified March 15, 2007, 00:05:01]

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