Holmes Beach claims tree house threatens turtles, expert says no - WFLA News Channel 8

Holmes Beach claims tree house threatens turtles, expert says no

Posted: Updated:
MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A two-level tree house on Holmes Beach has been stirring up a lot of controversy and now a lot of attention.

It was featured on NBC's Today Show Thursday morning.  It's also been getting press around the world. An Australian TV network is doing a story on it next week.

It all started when Richard Hazen and his wife, Lynn Tran got verbal permission from a city official to build a tree house on their property.

But recently, the city informed them that it violates building codes and it must be torn down.

Hazen said, "I really, really don't understand what their motive is, it's gotta be some hidden motive. They won't sit down and talk about it."

Holmes Beach city officials did not respond to our interview requests, but we did learn building codes were not the only concern.

Public works superintendent Tom O'Brien sent an email to NBC News saying, "'the city is trying to protect our fragile natural dune system and the sensitive coastal environment that supports an essential sea turtle hatchery."

O'Brien says Hazen and his wife destroyed the sand dunes during construction and they are endangering the sea turtles.

Suzi Fox, the director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, has been studying the local sea turtle nests for 25 years. She said the tree house is not causing a problem.

"There's plenty of nesting area in front and that has not been compromised in any way," said Fox.

She says the city has not consulted her.

Fox said, "They're gonna need to come collect that data from me if they want to use that against the owners of the tree house."

As for those dunes, Hazen says he didn't tear them down, Tropical Storm Debby did.  He adds that  he's been planting sea oats, trying to restore them.

"If only we [and the city officials] could sit down and talk and understand each other, I would be able to sleep at night," said Hazen.

City officials say if this tree house isn't torn down soon, the couple could be fined up to $500 a day. The Code Enforcement Board will be meeting in June to decide the next course of action.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:41:35 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:49 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:17 AM EDT2014-09-02 04:17:17 GMT
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
  • Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:33:46 GMT
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
  • Land O' Lakes man: troopers saved my life

    Land O' Lakes man: troopers saved my life

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:41:51 GMT
    A Pasco County man credits two Florida Highway Patrol troopers with saving his life. A Pasco County man credits two Florida Highway Patrol troopers with saving his life.
    Chris Henry calls two Florida Highway Patrol Troopers heroes. He believes they saved his life.
    Chris Henry calls two Florida Highway Patrol Troopers heroes. He believes they saved his life.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:58 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:58:28 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to drop animal shows

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to drop animal shows

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:09 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:09:15 GMT
    Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone works with Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, Image APAug. 3, 2011 file photo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone works with Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, Image AP
    No animal performances will be held at a redesigned aquatic center planned by the Florida aquarium featured in the "Dolphin Tale" movies.
    No animal performances will be held at a redesigned aquatic center planned by the Florida aquarium featured in the "Dolphin Tale" movies.
  • Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:09:07 GMT
    File photo of Bubba the Love Sponge ClemFile photo of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.