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Neighborhood Profile: Woodtrace, Ridge Manor, Hernando County

RIDGE MANOR

Lynn and Steve Spivey live in what Lynn calls their own private park.

The beautiful, large Southern-style home they built sits on 3 acres of gently rolling land.

From the back of their wraparound porch, which is shaded by a nearby moss-laden live oak tree, a cow can be seen grazing in the distance.

Peaceful and serene. And, at least an hour — more like an hour and a half — drive from their jobs in Hillsborough County.

But for this couple, who moved in 2006 from a house on a 50- by 110-foot lot in Seminole Heights, the long commute is a fair price to pay for the ability to live in the wide open spaces of Ridge Manor in Hernando County.

Lynn had bought the house in Seminole Heights in 1996 for $59,000. After she met Steve at their job in Lakeland, where he had grown up, they gutted and rebuilt the Seminole Heights home, turning an almost $200,000 profit when they sold it 10 years later. They loved their little house but wanted more space.

"We looked in Tampa but found even an acre unaffordable," Lynn, an environmental engineer, said.

So, they started looking in Pasco County, which is located between their jobs in Tampa and Lynn's 90-year-old father, who lives in Hernando County.

They had looked at several parcels of land there — they wanted to use Steve's background in the construction business to build their own house — before their real estate agent said they really should look at a great piece of property available in Woodtrace in southern Hernando County.

It was farther from the city than they wanted to go, but they fell in love with the lot, nestled between 100-acre horse farms on a private winding street. When completely developed, there will be seven multi-acre lots on the street. Now there are four, with a fifth under construction.

"Right behind us was a thoroughbred training center with a track and everything," said Steve, an occupational electrical and instrumentation and controls technician.

They bought the lot and got to work, much more work than they had expected. After looking at hundreds of house plans, they settled on one that met their desire for a Southern-style plantation home with a wraparound porch and lots of windows. They customized it for their needs — and also to meet the strict building codes Hernando County has in place to prevent flooding problems.

They situated it among the existing live oaks on a slight hill in the center of their property, making the front elevation 3 feet and the back elevation about 9 feet, providing an entry to a crawl space under the back of the house.

Their private oasis. Almost ideal.

They still have to contend with their long commutes — Steve to Brandon and Lynn to Tampa — but say they've gotten used to it.

Two cats are perched on the railing of the porch. A third scurries away. At the back of the property two dogs, with a penchant for jumping on visitors, are temporarily secured in a kennel while a third snoozes on a doggie bed in the house.

Their private oasis. Absolutely ideal.

Conract Patti Ewald at pagewald@hotmail.com.

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