The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 15 - January 23, 2013


Tree house owners get another chance

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The owners of this tree house are being given a chance to
apply for a permit after the fact from the Florida Department
of Environmental Protection, which previously
ordered it to be removed.

HOLMES BEACH – Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran, of Angelino’s Sea Lodge, 103 29th St., have persuaded the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow them to apply for a permit after the fact for the triple decker tree house they built last year without a permit in an Australian pine tree.

Last summer, DEP ordered the removal of the tree house, granting the owners 30 days to submit an application for a new tree house in another location.

In an emotional letter to DEP citing “childhood dreams” and “the pursuit of happiness in our backyard,” the couple asked to keep the $50,000 tree house, which has four support posts, and pointed to the Gulf Drive Café in adjacent Bradenton Beach, which is building the second of two tiki huts on the beach with several more posts.

DEP decided to give the couple the opportunity to submit an application for after the fact authorization of the tree house after considering their letter and photos of the tree house, DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said.

Hazen said he received verbal approval for the tree house from a former Holmes Beach building official. City building inspector Bob Shaffer told The Sun last year that he thought Hazen was proposing building a simple deck in the tree, and said he wished he had asked to see a rendering of what turned into a three-level project with glass walls, a roof and a staircase.

Both a state and a city permit were required before building the structure, according to DEP’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, which regulates coastal construction. Permits are required to protect sand dune systems, which prevent erosion, stabilize the beach and protect nearby structures.

The opportunity to apply does not mean that the application for the after the fact permit has been or will be approved, according to a written response to Hazen and Tran’s letter from James Martinello, the DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management Environmental Manager.

Approval or denial of a permit application is based upon a review of the potential impacts to the beach dune system, adjacent properties, native salt resistant vegetation and marine turtles as well as all existing rules and statutes, according to Miller.

The permit application is due within 45 days of Hazen and Tran’s receipt of the Dec. 13, 2012, letter, or sometime around the end of this month. If no application is filed, DEP will require the removal of the structure from the area seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line.

The owners would be required to pay an as-yet-undetermined permit fee, provide a letter of no objection from Holmes Beach officials and supply a survey, a site plan and other information, including names and addresses of adjacent neighbors, according to the letter.

As of press time, no application had been received by DEP, Miller said.

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