No Treehouse For You!

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More creeping Big Brotherism.
In May, our DCG wrote a post on the Freeland family in Southworth, Washington, being issued an order by the apparatchik of Kitsap County to cease all work on their children’s treehouse.
The treehouse had been built by the boys’ father, a landscape architect, without putting a nail in the tree. But a neighbor complained, and the county said the treehouse is illegal and dangerous, and must come down.
Now an Iraq war veteran has been told he must tear down a tree house he’s built for his two sons because it “violates” zoning regulations.

U.S. Army Aviation Specialist Mark Grapin in front of his tree house

As recounted by Todd Starnes for FoxNews, Oct. 17, 2011 :

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. […]

So when Grapin returned home, he followed through on that promise and headed off to the local home improvement store. He said he contacted Fairfax County and was given assurances that he didn’t need any special permits to build the $1,400 tree house.

But it turns out – that wasn’t exactly accurate. “I was up on the roof of the thing when I found out the county board of zoning enforcement had left a notice on the front door,” he said.

It turns out Grapin didn’t need a permit – he needed a zoning variance. That’s because his house is on a corner lot. And in the eyes of Fairfax County – Grapin has two front yards. […]

But he still made a promise to his sons – so Grapin decided to appeal the ruling. He said the board of zoning appeals denied his request for a variance – but offered him one last chance to plead his case, on Nov. 30.

In the meantime, Grapin has had to pay nearly $1,800 in permits and fees to build the $1,400 tree house.

“I paid $885 for a special permit to build the tree house,” he said. “There were additional fees of $975 to have the plats for the property redrawn to reflect the tree house and then I had to pay mail fees to notify the neighbors of hearings so they could voice any concerns they might have about the tree house.”

Blogger Bojidar Marinov of Godfather Politics points out that:

Theoretically, zoning regulations were first introduced in the United States for the purpose of segregating uses of land that are thought to be incompatible. Looks like a reasonable purpose; why not let the government regulate who builds what to prevent innocent neighbors be wronged or injured in the process? After all, we don’t want someone to built a polluting factory near a residential complex. Right.

In practice, zoning regulations have developed into a tool for control over private citizens who violate no laws in the use of their property. And with the control over private citizens, zoning laws have also developed into a money-making machine for the local governments – forcing individual citizens to pay exorbitant fees for unnecessary permits and variances. […]

Our modern tyrants in the local governments wouldn’t even allow us to build a tree house in our backyard unless we pay them an exorbitant amount of money for permits and “handling.”

And if we can’t stand up to a small bunch of local tyrants, how can we stand up to Washington DC?

Liberty doesn’t start from Washington DC. Liberty start from our home and our county. We can’t have liberty on a national level if we can’t fight for it on a local level. If zoning laws have been subverted to such an extent as to be used for control by bureaucrats over law-abiding citizens, and for extorting money for local bureaucrats, it is time for us to follow the example of our Founding Fathers and do what they did. We can’t be slaves locally and free men nationally. Liberty starts from home.

To support Mr. Grapin, sign a petition. Click here!
H/t beloved fellow Tina.

UPDATE (Nov. 30, 2011):

Today, the Fairfax County zoning board reversed its earlier decision and unanimously agreed to grant a reprieve allowing Mark Grapin to keep the tree house he had built for his two boys.
Read more here.

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0 responses to “No Treehouse For You!

  1. I am a contractor. And zoning in many cases is a way for counties to extract money from the public. He is not alone when these pin headed gouls, usually liberal busybodies of no importance have a chance to be power mad.
    What needs to happen is common people to throw them out on their ear. And make them a public example of scorn and maybe get a handle on rampant regulations.

  2. Left/liberalism… the annoying, nagging feeling that someone, somehere can and is doing things independently and must be stopped from doing so.

  3. Is this even America anymore?

  4. I can’t say it any other way – what a bunch of bullsh*t.

    • Traci,
      What are you calling “a bunch of bullsh*t”? My post? The county bureaucrats? There have been so many ad hominem attacks on me, it’d be nice if you can be more specific. Just a warning: if you’re calling my post “bullsh*t”, I do troll-hunting as a hobby.

  5. New York Law School’s legal journalists are on your side! Check out our article that gives a legal analysis of Army Dad’s case:…or-yours-either/

  6. Good news! Today, the Fairfax County zoning board reversed its earlier decision and unanimously agreed to grant a reprieve allowing Mark Grapin to keep the tree house he had built for his two boys.


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