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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Florida Tree House

The gorgeous Florida tree house whose owners have been ordered to tear it down from beach

  • Couple spent $20,000 on two storey tree house after being told they did not need a permit
  • Officials want to tear the building down stating it flouts regulations
Lynn Tran calls her oceanfront tree house, a 'childhood dream', but it is a dream that has recently turned into a nightmare.
Together with her husband, Richard Hazen, the couple spent $20,000 on the tree trunk hideaway, situated on Anna Maria Island in Florida, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, the couple have been told to tear the treehouse down or prepare to face fines of $500 a day because they didn't get planning permission.
Not your average treehouse: Stunning sunsets and sandy siestas
Not your average treehouse: Stunning sunsets and sandy siestas
TBD: To be demolished - at least, that is what officials from the City of Holmes Beach would like to see happen
TBD: To be demolished - at least, that is what officials from the City of Holmes Beach would like to see happen
Childhood dream: Richard and Lynn's treehouse is built within the branches of a giant Australian pine tree
Childhood dream: Richard and Lynn's treehouse is built within the branches of a giant Australian pine tree
Lynn and Richard say they had permission from the city of Holmes Beach's but that it wasn't given in writing.
The couple approached the city building department in 2011 to obtain a permit.

An official working at the time told them such a document wasn't necessary. The official smiled, 'go ahead, no permit is required, just makes it safe so no one falls out,' and so Richard began to build.
'There were 5 officers in the room and no one asked me to complete anything.' he said.
Contemplation: Richard Hazen and his wife run a resort on the Gulf of Mexico
Contemplation: Richard Hazen and his wife run a resort on the Gulf of Mexico
Lynn Tran: She and her husband have talked about building the tree house for 14 years
Lynn Tran: She and her husband have talked about building the tree house for 14 years
'Wow, how wonderful,' thought Lynn. 'No permit is required so no paperwork is needed.' The building officials did not request for plan, drawings, sketches, nor give Richard any forms or guidelines.
The staff member who gave the 'incorrect' information is no longer with the planning department and now officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are telling the couple they do need a permit but that one cannot be requested retrospectively. 
Code Enforcement Officer David Forbes wrote, 'To be frankly blunt, if you did not receive a written response to a detailed submittal then no approval can be inferred from a casual conversation.'
Floridian flight: The couple's happy do-it-yourself project has turned into headache and heartache
Floridian flight: The couple's happy do-it-yourself project has turned into headache and heartache
Extreme Makeover Treehouse Edition: The couple were told they did not need a permit to build the treehouse but officials now say that's not the case
Extreme Makeover Treehouse Edition: The couple were told they did not need a permit to build the treehouse but officials now say that's not the case
Going to waste: Unless the council have a change of heart, the couple will be forced to pull down their $20,000 treehouse
Going to waste: Unless the council have a change of heart, the couple will be forced to pull down their $20,000 treehouse
The couple have been told that as they are situated on the beach, they must obtain an FDEP permit or remove the tree house. However, even if they applied for one, it's unlikely it would be granted.
The tree house violates a number of building codes including coastal zoning and structural standards, especially considering the region is one where hurricanes frequently hit.
The couple run a guest house, Angelinos Sea Lodge, and at one point fully intended to allow guests access to the tree house.
Now, Lynn and Richard say the tree-top retreat is strictly for their own use.
'The word is 'complicated, headache, heartache,'' said Lynn Tran. 'I'm not sure what all the rules and processes are. It's very confusing.'
Richard has sent a letter pleading with the FDEP, the mayors office and city officials from Holmes Beach to stop the duplex tree house from being demolished.
'Stop destroying a childhood dream, work of art and creativity. Please stop the conflict, stop wasting time and resources over a harmless double deck in the tree. This is not the mega 2500 sq ft 3-story house.
It is a partially enclosed double deck, with less than 250 sq. ft. each and a stairway platform of less than 80 sq. ft... Let's live in peace and harmony on Anna Maria Island with no further disputes over a pleasant tree house.'
Crystal ball: The stunning ocean views will remain but what of the   treehouse? Only time will tell...
Crystal ball: The stunning ocean views will remain but what of the treehouse? Only time will tell...
Beach day: It should be a most relaxing place for Richard and Lynn but the couple have received nothing but aggravation since the treehouse was built
Beach day: It should be a most relaxing place for Richard and Lynn but the couple have received nothing but aggravation since the treehouse was built
The couple and the tree house are not going down without a fight. 
They have hired an attorney to help them sort through codes and confusion. They have also reached out to the community for support. 
An online petition to save the tree house had more than 1,000 signatures.

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