Holmes Beach tree house owners fighting city - WFLA News Channel 8

Holmes Beach tree house owners fighting city

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The showdown between the city of Holmes Beach and the owners of a tree house continues.

A Holmes Beach couple built an elaborate two story house after getting verbal permission from a city official.

Last month, the Code Enforcement Board ruled that it violates numerous building codes and should be demolished.

But this fight could go on for quite a while.

When you stop by the pristine town of Holmes Beach, you can't help but notice a huge tree house overlooking the Gulf.

Some have compared it to ‘Swiss Family Robinson.'

It's garnered international attention.  Lynn Tran and her husband Richard Hazen built it after getting verbal permission from a city official.

But last month, after a marathon 11-hour meeting, the city code enforcement board ruled it violates numerous building codes, and must be either brought to compliance or eventually torn down.

Lynn Tran said, "We just don't want to tear it down, we can't move it like they asked us to."

Tran and her husband were given a deadline of August 28th. By that date, they had to begin the process of fixing the violations or be subject to fines.

Tran's attorney says instead they plan on filing an appeal. And the attorney says while the appeal is embroiled in the legal process, the code enforcement board cannot take any action against the owners.

The fight to save this tree house has not been easy or cheap. The couple has already spent at least $40,000 in legal fees, and that's on top of the $20,000 they spent to build the thing.

"I just saw the last [legal] bill and I just almost fell onto the floor," said Tran. "We didn't expect it to be this long. This involved, and this complicated."

So they need some cash. The owners will soon begin selling t-shirts online. They hope the funds can help with the ongoing legal fees.

The owners have also collected hundreds of signatures on a petition. It's urging the city commission to approve an ordinance allowing the tree house. Under city law, if the commission does not approve the ordinance, then it could be up for a city-wide vote.

Ultimately, Tran hopes to come to some sort of terms with the city.

She said, "If you don't meet a certain building codes, that's a different story, but to me that's not breaking the law. If you want to make things safer tell us how to make it safer."

They worked hard for their slice of paradise, and they're working hard to keep it.

We reached out to the city attorney for comment on this story, and we have yet to hear a response.

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