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Holmes Beach tree house's future being decided

8:17 PM, Jul 30, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Holmes Beach tree house's future being decided

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Holmes Beach, Florida -- It's the kind of tree house a grown kid imagines and makes come true. But now a permitting controversy may bring down the popular and expensive tree house on Holmes Beach.

Eight feet up an Australian Pine the two-story $20,000 tree house with an observation deck overlooking Holmes Beach may soon see its final sunset.

"It's a work of love, it's a work of art for us, it's fun a thing we always dreamed of having," says Lynn Tran.

It's a dream she may lose. Building officials say Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen built the 450-square-foot tree house without a permit in 2011.

Hazen told the code enforcement board they tried applying for a permit but a previous building official said they didn't need one and said official Bob Schaffer didn't ask for additional information.

"[Schaffer] said there was nothing in the books. Make it safe and don't let anyone fall out of it, or you'll be responsible," Richard Hazen told the board.

"Did they ask you to submit any plans?" Hazen's attorney, David Levin asked.  

Hazen replied, "No, that was pretty much it."

Building official Tom O'Brien said what the couple built is more than a tree house but an accessory structure to the couple's lodge and a permit application called for a site plan and review.

"Poorly-constructed, poorly-secured building elements become flying debris and presents a clear and present hazard," said building official for Holmes Beach Tom O'Brien. 

Hazen said the windows are removable in case of a storm but the couple's attorney said safety is not the issue -- the permit is the issue. David Levin said the city's land rules are vague and inconsistent.

"If there are little things we need to fix we are more than happy to do that," Tran said.

If the board votes down the tree house the owners can appeal the decision the case would then be heard by a judge.

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