- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) A husband and wife who won a $450,000 home in a contest are getting more headaches than pleasure from the prize.
Donnie and Susie Ferguson of Gloucester won the new home last month in a contest sponsored by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Tickets cost $100 each, and Susie Ferguson bought three to honor her parents, longtime donors to St. Jude.
Now, the Fergusons have to decide how they'll pay the $157,000 or more in income taxes they estimate they'll owe once they get the keys to their new home. One option is to sell the home and use the money to pay the taxes.
"It's something you can't get out of," Mr. Ferguson said. "It's something you have to deal with whenever you win something, but it does make you wonder if you ever want to participate in something like that again."
The nearly 4,000-square-foot home is in Back Bay at Lago Mar, a subdivision in Virginia Beach. It has four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a two-story outdoor deck and other amenities.
It also has a roof that exceeds the city's zoning requirements by a foot and a half, thereby making it difficult for the Fergusons to get an occupancy permit.
The maximum height allowed for homes in Virginia Beach is 35 feet. Virginia Beach zoning officials take height restrictions seriously because military planes fly so low over the area. The builder, Charlie Anderson Builders of Chesapeake, and St. Jude officials plan to ask the city's Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday to let the roof stay as it is.
"We're asking them to accept the height, instead of making the builder alter the height of the roof," says Rebecca Freed, St. Jude's associate director.
Mr. Ferguson, a newspaper circulation supervisor, said he and his wife are taking the puzzling situation in stride.
"They won't let us have the keys. Legally, it's ours, but technically, it's not," Mr. Ferguson says.


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