The city of Holmes Beach wants to tear down a two-story tree house, but the owners are trying to take the fight all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. The structure has been featured on national television and on foreign news programs.
The owners are fighting to keep the house. “We feel that we haven’t done anything wrong,” Lynn Tran argued. But, the city says the tree house has numerous code violations. Officials have threatened daily fines until it’s torn down.
Over the past two years, the owners have fought the city in court. This month, a panel of district court judges denied the case and sided with the city. “It is very exhausting, emotionally draining, financially draining. You name it,” Tran said.
This week Tran and her husband filed a motion for a rehearing. They’re hoping the district judges will reconsider or give them a chance to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court. A court clerk said it’s unclear if or when the case will be taken up again. If the district court declines to take another look, the legal fight is over.
The tree house owners have a backup plan. They’ve collected signatures on a petition encouraging city officials to amend the law.
“You give pardon, parole to criminals, and yet, you have to give a death sentence to this thing,” Tran argued. “Just think of yourself being in my shoes, doing nothing wrong, sitting in front and getting dragged through all these things. Would you want that?”
But Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said it’s about rules. There are rules that are supposed to be followed. These weren’t,” Johnson said. City officials say the tree house was built too close to the water and they’re concerned that it might not be structurally sound.
“It’s being fair and equitable to everybody here. Everybody needs to play by the rules. That’s the way we run things,” Johnson added.