Down 'n' Dirty

updated 08/14/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/14/2000 01:00AM

In Thomas Rossano's front yard in Stuart, Fla., the pigs do what pigs do—mainly wallowing and snorting. Across the road, at the Florida Club's fourth hole, the golfers do what golfers do—mainly slicing and hooking.

This picture of bucolic coexistence is deceptive, however. The pigs don't seem to mind the golfers, but many golfers object to the pigs—because of their smell, and because of the music Rossano plays for them: a steady diet of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin. The golfers want the pigs gone, and the dispute, simmering since 1997, wound up in Martin County Circuit Court, where on July 14 a jury found in Rossano's favor. He has to lower the decibels, but the pigs stay. "They thought they were dealing with an ignorant pig farmer," says Rossano. "But they found differently. I'm fighting for my family and our way of life."
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It's a way Rossano, 42, a mail carrier who raises pigs on the side, chose in 1979. To him the 2½ acres in Stuart looked like a little bit of heaven. He built a house, reared four kids with his wife, Faith Ann, 40, a part-time manicurist, and began raising pigs for market. He found that the local country-and-westem station helped soothe them. ("The station switched formats a while back," says Faith Ann, "but the pigs don't really care.")

But in 1993 investors purchased the cow pasture across the way and began building the Florida Club, and friction followed. "The smell from the fourth hole was offensive," says building contractor Paul Koenig. "And the music," adds Lee Cotten, one of the club's investors, "absolutely interferes with the quiet and solitude." Compromise, says Judge Ben Bryan, is of the essence: "The best solution is to try being good neighbors...unless you enjoy coming into court and paying lawyers."

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