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Couple fighting for peace and quiet
By ERIN SULLIVAN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 10, 2007
LAND O'LAKES - They planned to grow old here. Steve and Deon Coogle searched for months to find the perfect home. In 2000, a year after they were married, they were living in a tiny apartment in Tampa and couldn't stand it. They needed space.
Deon, 33, knew what she needed to be happy - lots of open land, sounds of birds in the morning, glimpses of deer nibbling in the back yard and flocks of wild turkeys. She did not want to be in a community with deed restrictions. She didn't want anyone to tell her what color to paint her mailbox. She didn't want to have to ask whether she could have a clothesline or a bonfire in the back yard.
Steve, 37, grew up in Tampa, a city boy, which is crazy because he's got a country heart. He hunts and fishes and has a truck and doesn't like views of asphalt.
They searched. And searched.
And found this: a one-story home on 8 acres of land on Ehren Cut Off in Land O'Lakes, just past Pump Station Road. The trees are what got Steve - huge, ancient live oaks. He calls them his babies. Deon loved the land. A few acres are mowed, but the rest is wild and stretches back to a line of trees, and when she steps into it, she feels as if she's in another world, another time. Both Steve and Deon work in Tampa and deal with the high-stress commute. Their home is their escape.
But now they think they might have to move. Their next-door neighbors are selling their home and land. One possible buyer wants to turn it into a pet motel.
A decision to allow the needed change in zoning restrictions could be made at a planning commission meeting at 1:30 p.m. today at the West Pasco Government Center board room in New Port Richey. The lawyer retained by the neighbors, Michael and Helen Elvington, has requested a 60-day continuance, so the decision might be put off for another few months.
A call to the lawyer, Tim Hayes, Tuesday afternoon was not returned.
Steve and Deon Coogle said they are fine with their neighbors, who came to them first when they were contacted by the possible buyer. The Coogles said they know their neighbors need to do what's best for them - which is sell to the highest bidder.
But the Coogles are fighting. They've gone around the neighborhood and gotten three dozen signatures for a petition. They've researched zoning laws and written to the county zoning department.
It's not that the Coogles don't like animals. They have a boxer named Max and a cat named Poncho. The Coogles don't have children - but they treat their pets as though they are their kids.
It's just that they like things as they are. They're scared that the new owner will tear down the house and build a huge cement building, which could house more than 100 dogs. There would be a parking lot and traffic. And noise. Their bedroom faces the neighboring home. They're scared of hearing barking all night long.
This is their dream home. This is where their families gather to play volleyball and horseshoes.They have cookouts and parties.