updated 1/3/2005 7:10:52 PM ET 2005-01-04T00:10:52

A homeowner and officials of this wealthy island community are locked in a turf war — an artificial turf war.

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Ed Ehlen, owner of a flooring company, said he wanted an environmentally friendly lawn, so he installed artificial turf at his new, $4 million home.

But officials in this Gulf Coast city of 15,000 year-round and 35,000 seasonal residents have refused to grant Ehlen the certificate of occupancy he needs to move in until the plastic grass is removed.

Ehlen has painted a part of his house pink with purple and green polka dots as a protest.

He said he considers installing plastic grass more responsible than maintaining a real lawn in drought-plagued southwestern Florida. Artificial turf does not need to be watered, fertilized, mowed or treated with pesticides.

But critics say it absorbs less rainwater, increasing runoff. And Greg Niles, Marco Island’s community development director, said city officials conducted tests that found that rubber pellets in the turf could be dislodged by heavy rain and flooding and get into the storm sewers and canals, threatening birds and fish.

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