So much for cheap housing the culture that is Fairfax

by on October 18, 2011 at 4:37 pm in Law | Permalink

A zoning board in Fairfax County, Va., is standing firm in its decision to order a war veteran to destroy a tree house he built for his two young sons.

County officials determined Mark Grapin, an Army aviation specialist, violated zoning regulations when he built a tree house in his backyard.

“The boys wanted a tree house,” Grapin told Fox News Radio, explaining it was a promise he made to his 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons before he left for Iraq. “It was a commitment I made to the boys and, frankly, we should do our best to keep our commitments to our children.”

There is more here and thanks to Rob Nelson for the pointer.

Brian October 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I promised my son a prostitute on his sixteenth birthday and gosh darnit, I think we should do our best to keep our commitments to our children.

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

At least you didn’t do something really dumb, like build a treehouse.

Mike October 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm

If you’re not a war veteran, who cares?

Paul October 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I’m aghast … That he would live in Fairfax

mulp October 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Given the demonstrated failure of economists to figure out a way to provide opportunities for kids, clearly allowing the tree house for kids to remain means they will be living in the tree house when they are adults and will be expanding it into a duplex to make room for their live in girl friends, and then imagine what comes next.

John Thacker October 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm

This is, of course, concomitant with the swing of Fairfax and northern Virginia towards Democrats. ;)

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

They didn’t mind the treehouse per se, but they were deathly worried that it might expand into selling lemonade.

Maurice de Sully October 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Exactly. Treehouses are well known to be gateway regulatory violations.

indeed October 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

citrisy slope if I do say so myself

Frank October 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Worse than lemonade: The inhabitants of the tree-house might actually be having fun!

Neal October 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Why do zoning laws exist, besides making the SimCity algorithm more computationally efficient?

AndrewL October 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

So you don’t have to live behind the chlorine factory.

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Or anywhere near a frickin’ tree house.

AndrewL October 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Or behind a chlorine factory in a tree house.

NAME REDACTED October 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Zoning laws were created so it would be easier to keep blacks out of areas.

Thoma Hawk October 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Zoning laws exist to ensure that one restaurant after another fails in two- to three-year cycles. If a restaurant actually succeeds (by the grace of God, illegal alien cooks, or high margins), another restaurant within a quarter-mile will begin a new cycle of failures at that location.

Mayans invented zoning laws.

vHuman October 19, 2011 at 5:41 am

In the XIXth Century, zoning laws were created to insure high and efficient population density through decent sanitarization systems, like

Craig October 19, 2011 at 6:40 am

To allow fascists to persecute me for running a tannery in my garage. The neighbors will get used to the smell.

Crenellations October 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

or running a tranny from my garage.

Paul Gowder October 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Here’s an economist question.

Why do zoning board personnel do their jobs here? Let’s assume that they don’t personally have a preference for chopping down treehouses. (Seems straightforward.) A zoning board employee has the choice to work or shirk on any given case — shouldn’t s/he work only on those cases where s/he’s likely to get punished for shirking, i.e., where anyone else in the would would give a damn?

Huh October 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I’m guessing some busybody neighbor (with serious emotional issues) filed a complaint.

Gabe October 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

“Give me 50 grand or a free renovation and I’ll help you on your next zoning concern.”

If they don’t show their power to control the serfs business then how can they expect to make crooked land deals with the local builders/developers.

John Schilling October 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Employment is not a simple money-for-labor trade; people also place value on e.g. the emotional satisfaction they receive from doing what they perceive to pe important work. Or exercising power over others, which is often correlated with perceived importance. Even if nobody was watching, it might still be in the zoning board member’s interest to chop down the treehouse if, e.g., he genuinely thought it was unsafe and likely to result in the child’s being injured, thus giving Mr. ZBM the warm fuzzy feeling of having rescued a child from danger. Or if every other possible application of his Zoning Board powers resulted in the wrath of hostile lawyers, and tearing down some kid’s treehouse was the only option he saw to accepting complete professional impotence.

In the latter case, it would be because nobody else in the world gives a damn, that the treehouse comes down. Well, except for the wrath of hostile journalists and bloggers…

Anon October 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

Because they have respect for the rule of law instead of the arbitrary exercise of power?

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

He lost by a 4-3 vote. He will appeal. If he wins, does that mean they have respect for the rule of law or the arbitrary exercise of power?

joshua October 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Occupy Tree House!

Jason October 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I take it from the author’s repeated references to the guy’s military background that the outrage here is not that people in Fairfax County are not allowed to build treehouses, but that a veteran is being held to the same standards as everyone else.

return October 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Or it could be because he was fighting for Iraqi’s freedom and then is faced with the restrictions on his freedom back home. Along the same lines as ‘can kill but can’t drink if you aren’t 21″ etc. Just a guess

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Or that next week he could be dead and people here are dicking around with treehouses.

return October 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Maslow’s hierarchy. I think this falls under “self-actualization” for the zoning board

Jason October 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

It’s hilarious to think that his fighting in Iraq had anything at all to do with zoning codes back home. I wonder how many laws or regulations the author of the article thinks war veterans should be able to break. The point should be that the zoning code in this instance is stupid, not that the guy is a veteran or that he made a promise to his kids. It’s just rhetorical dressing designed to stoke conservative outrage. Because we all know that no one would give a shit if the same thing happened to some office worker.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 6:31 am

It doesn’t. The Fox story mentions it twice, in a predictable manner as they might mention a soldier for any other story. They don’t juxtapose the two concepts. Commenters are making a big deal about it. He’s not wearing a uniform in the TV segment.

I would care if it was an office worker. It’s a sickness. That’s what makes me a freak. On the other hand, I think we could consider non-monetary benefits to veterans. It’s not a crazy idea.

The corner lot is treated as two front yards. So, this isn’t exactly a case of making sure everyone is treated the same. He is living under different rules already for his corner lot.

Jason October 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm

The article references it four times, not two, and was clearly using his status as a veteran to drum up extra outrage. And of course he lives under different rules from people not living on corner lots – the point is that he lives under the same rules as others who do live on corner lots. But you and I agree, these particular rules, no matter who they apply to, are stupid. I just also find the constant need to evoke patriotism (he’s a soldier!) also very stupid.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I can’t find 4. Anyway, people in corner lots are treated differently. Yes, you can say that they are treated the same as others in corner lots, but it is still a different set of rules. Additionally it is relevant because they call a corner lot back yard a front yard and that is apparently one reason he didn’t know he needed a variance.

liberalarts October 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I had to pull a permit when my father-in-law built a playhouse for my kids. Also, the zoning people required it to be no closer than 20 feet from my property line, which I found to be ridiculous. That said, why is the fact that this guy is a veteran an issue here? If we have to compensate veterans with exemptions from laws, then we need to pay soldiers more. If that is too expensive, then perhaps we should cut down on the wars.

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

No, go read it. Kafka would blush. “In the meantime, Grapin has had to pay nearly $1,800 in permits and fees to build the $1,400 tree house.” And it still might have to come down.

And it’s just a tree house. It’s not like he’s trying to comply with ADA on a historic building or anything.

Jason October 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm

The point is that EVERYONE has to deal with these stupid codes. Everyone. My neighbors on both sides of me have been through permitting crap way worse than this. It’s a nightmare, no doubt, and it’s largely unnecessary. But who gives a shit that the guy is a veteran, or that he made a promise to his kids? The clear message of the article is “How dare they treat a veteran this way!” But how dare they treat anyone this way is the real outrage.

NAME REDACTED October 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Because journalists don’t believe in property rights?

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

“The point is that EVERYONE has to deal with these stupid codes”

Actually, that would almost be better but it is not a clear application of written rules. Here’s how it really works. The county grants itself the power to vote on your requested variance, which can mean almost anything. If your neighbors don’t like your proposal they can oppose it. Practically, this turns into a lobbying effort to the voting committee. Since your neighbor doesn’t actually know what your proposal is going to look like, because, duh, you haven’t produced it yet, there is a disapproval bias on the part of the neighbor and the committee who is mostly concerned with CYA. So, not only are clear things prevented, but a lot of non-problems are also prevented a priori because your neighbor can’t see the benefit to your kids having a tree house for example.

Also, since the process is so arbitrary, an anonymous neighbor can deny your proposal even if they are not impacted. Who is impacted by the actual treehouse? Close neighbors. No, you are not affected by my ability to build a treehouse. You need to deal with that yourself. A more sensical system would allow comment and approval by the neighborhood. Then everyone would know by precedent that the neighborhood is or is not the kind of place where treehouses are welcomed and you will know that the cost of having the ability to have a treehouse is allowing your neighbors to have a treehouse rather than arbitrarily dealing with arbitrary enforcement on a county scale that doesn’t make any sense.

“We are a treehouse free county.” Seriously. How dumb does that sound?

Andrew' October 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Besides, you think the busybody brigade is the bulwark standing between us and arbitrary rule? Who wants to bet me money that he doesn’t get the variance? I can almost write the speech they’ll make in granting it. “We want to thank him for his service to this country…”

Can we not just split the country in half. We cut, they choose?

NAME REDACTED October 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Busybodies will be horribly aghast that SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IS BUILDING A TREEHOUSE!

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 6:34 am

I don’t think they care so much about treehouses. They just want to be the ones to okay them. So, follow the procedures and don’t question their authoritah. And don’t take it to the press unless you are a veteran going off to war leaving two boys in boy scout uniforms. Everyone can still feel good about how this turns out when they approve it. Maybe they’ll ask him to paint it a less obnoxious color.

Willitts October 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

In Marin County, California, it is illegal to plant a Redwood tree because it’s a nuisance – it blocks other people’s views.

On the other hand, if you HAVE a Redwood tree in your yard, it is illegal to cut it down because it’s a protected species.

A Redwood tree won’t grow tall, however, unless it has nearby Redwoods with which to interlock root systems.

If you build a treehouse in a Redwood tree, the state of California will reassess your property taxes and make you add a carbon monoxide detector. It must also meet earthquake code.

Your utility bill for the treehouse can be used as proof of residence for voter registration. Your signature on the card affirms your legal right to vote.

If an elderly person occupies the treehouse, they cannot be evicted.

Rebecca Menes October 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Zoning regulations are invented in NYC c.1916 and spread rapidly. The evidence suggests that the rapid changes in land use that followed the widespread adoption of the car led to demand from property owners for limitations on these changes. Zoning, the idea that the local government would mark out in advance and on a map what kinds of activities could legally happen where, was the most widely adopted solution. Once invented, zoning proved a powerful tool for control of local land use. As with many government regulatory schemes, it is unlikely that the original supporters in the 1920s foresaw the future limitations on tree houses, any more than the folks who introduced inspection and licensing of establishments serving food meant to criminalize lemonade stands.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 6:40 am

I’m a panarchist, so I don’t mind so much if people agree on the rules. But I don’t understand how a treehouse is a zoning issue. If anything, it’s a homeowner’s association issue (which I think if people are nuts enough to agree to those so be it) and the problem is the guy tried to go through the channels he thought were appropriate and only later found out it was a zoning issue. Why is it a zoning issue?

Kevin October 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

Have you seen photos of the actual ‘treehouse’? It’s a substantial structure, and looks more like a large (and ugly) shed on stilts that happens to have a tree growing through it than it does what we called a treehouse when I was a kid. It’s also in one of his two ‘front yards,’ so it’s visible to any and all from the street or surrounding houses. Virtually every neighborhood has zoning laws restricting the ability to put a trailer, a swimming pool, a trampolines, or statuary of anatomically correct naked humans in one’s front yard. We can all find ridiculous examples of the enforcement of these codes, but most homeowners strongly support said codes (except when they want to plant a tree that grows into their neighbor’s house, or start running their chrome-plating business out of their garage).

Oh, and if you actually take the time to read up on the situation, it was indeed a neighbor who complained to the city and demanded that the code be enforced. It wasn’t some overzealous fascist government worker with a socialist agenda.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

When did I say anything about a fascist government?

You guys.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

No, virtually every neighborhood does not have these type of zoning laws. Zoning laws didn’t fall out of the sky. A tree house is also not naked statues. It’s not even a lemonade stand. Based on your lack of awarenessI strongly doubt that you are in a position to claim that the vast majority of people prefer this kind of zoning.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Zoning takes near infinite forms and the existence of one type in one place does not argue for that type everywhere or for zoning in general. You just commented on my comment that said I think people should be allowed to choose and agree to their own standards.

In other words, I just said exactly the opposite of what you accuse me of. You guys see what you want to see while claiming that you have the monopoly on non-ideology. Give us a break.

DVD drive October 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm

ok,thank you very much, it is good, i like it
thanks
http://www.dreamboxok.com

Robert October 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm

What a DISGRACE.

What kind of monster makes a promise like that to their children before looking into the details of local zoning regulations?

Willitts October 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

The kind that kills people for a living.

TGGP October 19, 2011 at 12:39 am

Willitts wins the thread. And I am not being sarcastic.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 6:45 am

Someone who blames Republicans for making the healthcare law bad because they refused to play ball might say go take it up with the Democrats who sat on their thumbs while the wars were being approved. Well, they wouldn’t really say that because they are not objective. Soldiers sign up to defend the country. It’s up to the government to not send them on offensive boondoggles. True, there is no way in hell I’d sign up for the military with the current ideology in place, but I don’t blame soldiers for being sold a bill of goods.

anon October 19, 2011 at 8:18 am

There was a car in my neighborhood (NoVA neighborhood, the car had NY plates) with these two adjacent bumper stickers in August 2011:

STOP the ILLEGAL Republican Wars!

Obama 2008!

Hahahahahaha

And I bet that the owner of the car will vote for Obama or another war monger in 2012…. Just not an R war monger.

Anon October 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

Yeah, the irony of the fading “Endless (this) War” stickers is just incredible.

Almost as good as Occupy Wall Street protesting the banker bailouts at Wall Street instead of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

(another Anon)

Jeff October 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm

It is worth pointing out that the zoning violator in question is in the Army but there is no mention of him being involved in combat or having ever killed anyone.

R Richard Schweitzer October 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm

How many “i”s have been left undotted because of “t”s left uncrossed?

How many “t”s have been left uncrossed because all the dots were not connected?

DougT October 19, 2011 at 5:24 am

$1400 for a treehouse?! I built one for my kids from scraps and leftovers. Obviously I didn’t build it to Army standards. The article didn’t mention what he did in the Army–maybe it was building tree houses for sniper stands. Maybe it was defusing IEDs in treehouses. I can understand why the neighbor would object.

My veteran father never touched my treehouse as a kid. Did enough building when he was in the military. Which is why we built it from scraps. My brother built a garden shed from scraps a few years ago, it blocked his neighbor’s view of the mountains in Colarado. He had to tear it down. He was so upset he tore it down with an ax.

But $1400? And $1500 for a permit? He must have hired a lawyer to do the filing for him. Me, I file on recycled paper. With coffee grounds on it. Adds to the aroma.

anon October 19, 2011 at 8:25 am

Growing up we had a multiple tree houses, all built by us, starting at age 9, from scrap wood.

All as high in the trees as we could build – one was more than 50 feet above the ground – and all dangerous – YES!!!!!

(No animals were harmed and no one suffered any major injuries.)

My father, a civil engineer and a very handy guy with tools, never helped or criticized or monitored our tree-house construction. Bad dad!

Laserlight October 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

I was talking with a contractor recently who said that for a $300k house in California, the permits alone would be $40k. I don’t know whether he meant it’s 260+40 or 300+40 but I do know that’s why he’s not living in California any more.

L2P October 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm

That would depend on what you were doing. If you were on a grade and needed to get drainage and slides approved and a zoning variance, yeah, it could cost $40k (unkiely, but possible). We Californians are a little touchy about having our neighbors houses come sliding down on us in earthquakes or storms. I know other people don’t care that much if they wake up to find a neighbor’s living room in their, uh, living room, but then we Californian’s are quite so, uh, neighborly, I guess.

The basic fee in Los Angeles, however, is a fraction of $40k. You can see for yourself, it’s here in Chapter 10. http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates&fn=default.htm&vid=amlegal:lamc_ca

Craig October 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

This seems to be one of the prices that this Fairfax homeowner has to pay in order to live in a county that he presumably otherwise likes. I expect that the homeowner enjoys the benefits of some of the other Fairfax regulations. We just don’t know which ones. (Is it possible he sleeps better at night because some neighbor is prohibited from letting a dog bark all night?) For the record, I like the tree house and wish it could stay.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

That’s not how I see it. Regulations don’t stop dogs from barking anymore than they keep treehouses from being built when you make a good faith effort to understand the regs and go get the right permits but you don’t realize your yard is a special case because it is a corner lot. And then, they’d probably have just granted the zoning variance (again, why is it a zoning issue?) if he’d have just known to ask for it. So, I don’t buy the “rule of law” stuff in these cases either.

L2P October 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

It’s a SFR zone, not a commercial zone, so you can’t build permanent structures in a front yard (except for a garage, presumably). B/c he’s on a corner lot, all the yardage is defined as “front yard.)

If he built something that you could call a temporary structure, then there wouldn’t be a problem. Most small structures (like doghouses, kids forts, small sheds and stuff) can be classified as temporary and aren’t an issue. But he pulled over $1000 in permits. This is a SERIOUS treehouse. It’s probably bigger than the house I was born in. Frankly, I’m surprised they could let this get built at all. It sounds like it could be classified as another dwelling, making it MFR. A clever land use attorney could use this as precedent to start building duplexes and 4-plexes.

That, btw, is why we have zoning codes.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

No, that is why people hates lawyers.

Yes, we know the zoning codes define a corner back yard as a front yard. It’s stupid, but yes, we get it. That’s why he didn’t know he needed to get a zoning variance. It’s a treehouse. If we need to prevent treehouses so that people can’t build 4-plexes, I gotta say, that’s just ridiculous.

Wait for Nov. 30. Still taking bets on whether they approve it, which will make a bunch of the arguments in here look ridiculous.

Chris October 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

“That’s because his house is on a corner lot. And in the eyes of Fairfax County – Grapin has two front yards.”

In other words he’s trying to build a $1,400 treehouse against the street, not in his back yard. Doesn’t take a busybody to notice, or care, about that.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 9:22 am

Yes it does. It’s a treehouse. You can say that busybodies deserve neighborhoods too, but I wouldn’t give a crap about it in my neighborhood. I’d like it.

Chris October 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

How do you know you’d like it? Is your point that you will like any structure of any quality and appearance built in any place in your neighborhood?

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Why would that be my point when I said I’d like a treehouse. I’m not saying I would mind other structures.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Frankly, most wouldn’t bother me because I don’t believe the “property value” noise. Freedom of use is part of my property value anyway. The point is that everyone can have a different aesthetic, just not in Fairfax.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

(I also like dogs barking in my neighbors yard. I’ve had a car and a trailer stolen. More dogs, please.)

Dan October 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

$1,400 to build a tree house? This guy not only violated the zoning regs, he violated the first rule of father-son building projects: you buy lumber to build a daughter’s backyard playhouse, but you scrounge scrap lumber for a son’s tree house at local construction sites. Second rule: if a boys’ tree house isn’t ugly enough to make the neighbors complain, tear it down and start again. If Dad doesn’t get with the program , his sons will grow up to want chintz-covered sofas in their man-caves.

RonB October 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

A small but important point, it is not really a “treehouse”, it is a small cabin or playhouse on supports that looks about six feet off the ground and has a tree that goes through its center. It is not in the tree or supported in any way by the tree.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/father-battles-fairfax-county-zoning-laws-for-sons-treehouse/2011/10/11/gIQAHClzeL_story.html . I think that changes the argument about zoning. Over aggressive and costly zoning is still an issue but this is the wrong case for that argument.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

How does it matter that he leaves the tree unharmed with an even less permanent structure? Noone is disputing that it’s different from a garage or shed, although we could But let’s not. Why is that a zoning issue (other than the fact that they made it so because they decided they could)?

It bothered one single neighbor (two complaints, but Grapin thinks it’s the same neighbor). It’s barely a neighborhood issue. What legitimate zoning interest does preventing a treehouse serve? Okay, nevermind.

Most other people are only bothered because they think they’d have to follow the rules if they wanted a tree house, which they don’t. So it is only nominally enforced equally. If you don’t want a treehouse for your kids, then there is no cost to you of having a rule against it. Okay, nevermind. They just don’t want the appearance of uneven enforcement. Even that issue goes away if they just enforce the rules equitably.

“County officials say the Grapins violated zoning regulations that try to ensure that everyone lives in a safe, well-kept neighborhood. In a 4-to-3 vote, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals denied his request for a zoning variance last month. But the board has agreed to reconsider the case Nov. 30.”

Yes, the zoning code (again, why is it a county zoning issue?) considers his back yard a front yard. Yes, that rule is dumb, but sure it is a rule. But there’s nothing particularly unsafe or unkempt about a treehouse for boys. It’s not that there is a law against treehouses. It was in a vote and he lost by one vote. It’s not a rule-of-law issue. Without the complaint of the neighbor there would be no enforcement. You can get an exemption and he almost got one, for lack of one vote. It’s an arbitrary process, rule of law arguments have no weight. He’ll probably get it on appeal and not just because of the media pressure but because these things are made to be flexible. I suspect they are just pissed because they think he tried to flaunt their power. Maybe they’ll get their back up over the media pressure, or maybe they’ll bend. One thing is for sure, they won’t stick to any conception of principle. There is none here.

Noah Yetter October 19, 2011 at 10:00 am

Glad I don’t live in Fairfax anymore.

Aaron Aardvark October 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

NIMBY

and NIYBY either

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

NIYBYTIDAAFYBSDIFAANC

Not in your back yard that is defined as a front yard by some dudes if some anonymous neighbor complains

Akidderz October 19, 2011 at 11:12 am

In season 3 of the Wire — Cutty finds it impossible to get permits to open a gym without political help. Like much of the Wire — it shows how these rules and systems aren’t set up for average people to comply with.

Andrew' October 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

There is no rule against treehouses. You just have to go plead your case and get a variance. There is no legitimate zoning issue as in enforcement against incompatible land use. This is not a case of rule of law but an example of arbitrary rule. Through the government body, your neighbors have an option veto on your property. There is no legitimate reason to have arbitrary option veto on a county level for a tree house (or any other structure) It exists to featherbed the local politicians. I thought people were caught up by now. I guess not.

Veridical Driver October 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Back when I was a kid, we had a simple solution for neighborhood busybodies like that: Revenge.

Yeah, sure, you could be an asshole can call in the neighbor kid’s treehouse to the city… But you could also expect a lifetime of rotten eggs thrown at your house, slashed garbage bags, prank calls, and unrelenting petty vandalism. Most neighborhood busybodies where smart enough to keep their mouth shut.

I guess modern kids are all inside playing videogames and taking their diabetes medicine, that it is too difficult to defend their interests.

Borealis October 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Halloween was always the best night of the year to settle scores with neighbors. But nowadays, by the time the kids have to put on helmets, knee pads, eye protection, and sterile gloves in order to throw eggs, it really takes all the fun out of it.

Borealis October 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Zoning is the pinnacle of 5,000 years of civilization which drives people to command their neighbors how to live.

Tim October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm

This is more than likely a code violation and not a zoning law. There is no zone SF-TREEHOUSE. This sounds completely irrational until the tree house falls out of the tree with the neighbor kids in it, and they scream “THEY’RE OUGHT TO BE A LAW AGAINST SUBSTANDARD TREEHOUSES”. I think he’s taught his kids a valuable lesson. In society we can’t just do anything we want, and understanding the requirements of any project beforehand can make building it much easier in the long run.

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