Holmes Beach ‘tree house’ legal battle nearing end

Holmes Beach tree house

HOLMES BEACH, FL. (WFLA) – A Holmes Beach tree house has been the subject of an intense legal battle for more than two years. Now that fight is nearing its end.

And the city of Holmes Beach will soon put the pressure on to get it torn down.

The tree house was built in 2011 but it was soon met with controversy. The city said it violated numerous building codes and began issuing citations and threatening to levy daily fines. The owners have fought the city in court.

But last week, a panel of District Court judges denied an appeal filed by the owners. This allows the city to finally issue fines until the structure is demolished.treehouse2

Owner Lynn Tran said, “We can’t get justice.” Tran is nervous that soon she’ll be forced to tear it down.  “It’s always in the back of my mind,” she said.

She and her husband have already spent well over $100,000 in legal fees. “I think we can buy a small house for what we spent,” she said.

The ongoing saga has been seen around the world. Steve Timmons learned about it at home in New York. He’s visiting the area this week and walked a mile to see the structure.

Timmons said, “There must not be a lot to fight about out here, you know? If there’s contention about a tree fort, maybe they ought to move up to New York.”

Timmons feels the owners should do what they want on their own property. “If you’re not usurping anybody of their privacy or their enjoyment then let it fly,” said Timmons. “There are things that are important and there are things that are not important. And I can’t imagine wasting your time and energy combating this.”

Tran has collected signatures for a petition asking the city to change the law. But the Holmes Beach city attorney tells 8 On Your Side this is not a valid subject for a referendum.

Tran will do anything it takes to save her tree house.

“I’m gonna tie myself up there,” she stated. “I’m gonna have to be up there and come down with it.”

The city attorney says the code enforcement board will soon hold a meeting to discuss issuing daily fines.

Tran is still exploring any remaining legal options and has also hired an additional attorney from Tallahassee to help in the case.

 

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