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Squeeze on lemonade stand brings out supporters

Story highlights

  • A neighbor complained that 12-year-old's lemonade stand was a nuisance
  • The city of Dunedin has rallied around the boy's entrepreneurial spirit
  • City manager said an investigation found the stand did not cause any nuisance

In business, it's all about location, location, location. Even 12-year-old T.J. Guerrero knows that.

Since 2013, he has been manning a lemonade stand at the corner of Patricia Avenue and San Salvador Drive in Dunedin, Florida, about 25 miles west of Tampa. He lives a few houses down the street from the junction, but got permission from the owners of the corner house to set up shop with his homemade sign at the higher traffic area during summer breaks and after school during the school year.

But another neighbor on the street has been trying to put a squeeze on the kid's sweet operation, saying Guerrero's operation is a public nuisance.

Dunedin City Manager Rob DiSpirito told CNN that the first complaint was lodged by 61-year-old Doug Wilkey in 2013. In at least four e-mails to the city since then, Wilkey complained that Guerrero's stand caused excessive trash, traffic, noise, and affected the property value of his home, which is next door to where the stand is set up.

"If this were a once a year event by a couple kids to earn a little money for a holiday or something, I would not have a problem with it," Wilkey wrote. "I am very worried about the value of my home, which is why I built in a residential area, not a business area."

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A community police officer has been sent out at least twice to survey the claims, and found it to be a non-issue after polling neighbors.

    "We respect his right to have an opinion and took it seriously enough to do an investigation," said DiSpirito, who added that there has only been one person who has submitted complaints.

    This summer, when another complaint rolled in, DiSpirito once again inquired into the complaint.

    "Same results, same investigation," DiSpirito said.

    Since Wilkey's stand against the stand gained local and national attention, the city of about 37,000 has rallied behind the budding entrepreneur, including local radio personality Mike Calta of 102.5 The Bone.

    On Monday, the station surprised Guerrero and sent an employee to work the lemonade stand until he got home from school. It also urged listeners to pay the boy a visit.

    "This is amazing, I definitely did not know they were doing this, and I just got a call from a friend saying they were, so I just ran over here and it's amazing," Guerrero told CNN affiliate WFTS.

    The stand made an estimated $600 in two hours, according to WFTS.

    "I think it's really good when young people get a chance to learn what it's like to earn some money for themselves," said Mayor Dave Eggers, who happens to live right around the corner from Guerrero.

    Neighbors like him don't want to vilify Wilkey for complaining.

    "Sometimes you just have to step back and get a little perspective," Eggers said.

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