Vol. 17 No. 7 - November 30, 2016
Tree house owners seek building permit
Pat Copeland | Sun
Construction photos provided by tree house owners
Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran accompanied the application.
HOLMES BEACH – Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen have applied to the city’s building department for an after the fact permit for their tree house on the beach in front of Angelino’s Sea Lodge at 103 29th St.
The application calls the structure “an accessory structure, two level deck in a tree” and includes product approval for the windows used as railings on the first level deck, a coastal engineering study, sealed structural engineer plans, construction photos showing supports and framing, photos, as built sketches and a survey with lot calculation, building coverage, impervious coverage and a drainage plan.
In a letter with the application, Tran said, “The two-level deck is an open structure that allows rain water to drip through the tree branches through the deck to the sandy soil below. Drainage is the same as when there is just the tree without the decks. All rain waters get absorbed by trees, plants and nearby bushes.”
The application also includes a 2012 letter from Karyn Erickson, of Erikson Consulting Engineers, Inc., to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on the potential impacts of the tree house to the beach dune system. The letter followed a warning letter from FDEP regarding “possible unauthorized construction seaward of the coastal construction control line.”
Erickson concluded that the tree house is a minor structure based on the Florida Administrative Code definition that states, “Minor activities which do not cause adverse impact on the coastal dune system and do not cause a disturbance to any significant or primary dune are exempt from the permitting requirements of this rule chapter.”
The building department has not yet addressed the application.
In September, the appeal by tree house attorney David Levin regarding a code enforcement board fine was dismissed. A special magistrate ruled in a May hearing that Hazen and Tran did not bring the property into compliance with a 2013 code enforcement board order by removing the violations or demolishing the structure. The magistrate ordered a fine of $50 per day starting from July 22, 2015.
In September, Levin filed an appeal a judge’s final order that the proposed ordinance regarding an initiative petition was prohibited under Florida law and could not be submitted to voters. The initiative petition filed in 2013 sought to allow voters to decide if the tree house is legal.