Samantha Carlson, 11, Devastated After Zoning Board Forces Her to Tear Down Tree House

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An 11-year-old Pennsylvania girl’s dreams were demolished along with her tree house after the city zoning board voted that it violated zoning regulations.

Samantha Carlson, 11, asked her dad to build her a tree house for her birthday. The only tree on the property, however, was a stump in their front yard. Her father, J.C. Carlson was determined to make it work. Not thinking there would be a problem, J.C. started building the tree house in their front yard last month.

Then, code officer Janet Powers drove through their neighborhood and noted the tree house violated zoning regulations. Shortly after, she issued a notice for the Carlsons to stop building it.

“After serving 22 years in the military and thinking I’ve seen everything, tonight proved me absolutely wrong,” Carlson told The Daily Item. “I’ve never in my life seen anyone deny a child a tree house.”

Infuriated, J.C. decided to fight for his daughter’s tree house and request an exception for the zoning regulations. He even testified before the board with his attorney and more than a dozen neighbors who claimed the tree house “would not detract from the essence of the neighborhood” and should be allowed.

Unfortunately, the five member Selinsgrove Zoning Board disagreed and voted unanimously Thursday night for the tree house to be torn down. According to zoning board chairman Cyril Runkle, the tree could be built in the backyard without violating zoning laws. The only problem is that there are no trees in the backyard.

"It might not meet the young lady’s definition of a tree house, but in the board’s opinion it would be a sufficient substitute,” Runkle said.

Neighbors attempted to reason with the board and vouched on behalf of the family that they are good people and the tree house would only be up for a few years, but the board still believed a reasonable substitute would be sufficient for Samantha.

“I never thought it would come to this. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d have to testify just so that I could fulfill my daughter’s wishes,” Carlson said. 

Sources: Daily Mail, Daily Item