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'Airstream Ranch,' the RV Stonehenge of Tampa Bay, is being torn down

DOVER — For some, it was art. For others, a public nuisance. Very soon, however, the well-known fixture off Interstate 4 will cease to exist.

"Airstream Ranch," the popular and controversial display of RVs lodged in the ground is being torn down.

The display was built in January 2007, when Frank Bates built the project near his dealership, Bates RV. Bates said at the time he was trying to honor the 75th anniversary of Airstream campers, a line of RVs known for their rounded shape.

The Stonehenge-like row of RVs was instantly polarizing. While some residents complained about it, thousands supported the campers and viewed it as art. The site quickly became a tourist site.

UPDATE: Iconic 'Airstream Ranch' display demolished to make room for new Airstream dealership

The project immediately faced opposition from county officials. Hillsborough County Code Enforcement ruled the display violated zoning and sign restrictions and rules against debris and proper storage in 2008.

Bates was fined $100 a day after refusing to remove the campers from the ground.

He was ultimately victorious in 2010 when a panel of judges found the installation to be legal and reversed his fines. The county decided not to appeal the decision.

Bates and his wife, Dorothy, sold Bates RV to RV One Superstores in 2013, and the dealership is now called Tampa RV. The Bateses could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Nor could a representative of RV One Superstores be reached to explain why Airstream Ranch will be no more.

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.