They grab chilled bottles of Zephyrhills water from Freeman's fridge before hitting the pavement. Sprinkle carries a stack of fliers with information about Earth First!, the proposed retail project, and specific actions the neighbors can take — such as writing state senators. Freeman does most of the talking.

The first neighbor to open the door promises half-heartedly to attend an upcoming protest. "You know they passed the zoning change," Freeman says.

"Of course," the neighbor answers. "It's money in the coffer."

Brian Sprinkle (left) and Tami Freeman are fighting to save this wooded parcel.
Amy Guthrie
Brian Sprinkle (left) and Tami Freeman are fighting to save this wooded parcel.

More doors open. More neighbors pledge support. Linda Velazquez is surprised to learn that the battle rages on. "It should be a preserve with all the wildlife out there. That's the reason why my parents bought this place; the real estate agent said it was a preserve," she tells Freeman. Velazquez inherited the home two years ago. She offers an oversized wood curio cabinet for the garage sale; the curio doesn't fit with her modern décor anyhow.

At one of the last homes on the day's agenda, the owners invite the canvassers inside. Ken and Brenda Knauss both work in real estate, and they have been actively protesting the proposed development. The couple bought their home 21 years ago, figuring that perhaps their wild, seemingly endless backyard would eventually be replaced with a strip mall. But as the years wore on, the Knausses grew accustomed to their jungle view.

They stand next to their pool, under a canopy screen, just 30 feet from the dense foliage beyond a short fence. "We're going to have a perfect view of Atlantic Boulevard," Ken says, shaking his head. "The noise is going to be unbelievable."

Brenda chimes in: "What would happen if we had to sell for some reason? No one would buy this place with the construction going on."

The Knausses, not surprisingly, are no longer Lowe's customers. When it came time to replace their water heater a few days ago, they drove eight miles to the Home Depot on Wiles Road and State Road 7. It's about the same distance to the Lowe's on Turtle Creek Drive, in Coral Springs, but the Knausses have vowed to never walk into that chain again. Not even to compare prices.

Raindrops start to break on the canopy screen above, so the group retreats indoors to a billiard room decorated with Green Bay Packers memorabilia. The Knausses recount how they recently relocated a lost turtle to the canal behind the Freeman home. They talk about the fox that saunters by at the same time each day. They fear that all those animals will become roadkill.

That's why they can't let the first shovel hit the ground. And that's why Sprinkle might not be the only one blocking bulldozers come construction day.

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