City Orders Family To Dismantle $26K Treehouse

| by Reve Fisher
Joseph and Margaret Solomon standing in front of their treehouseJoseph and Margaret Solomon standing in front of their treehouse

A family is considering taking legal action after being told by the city that their treehouse needs to be removed.

Joseph and Margaret Solomon of Park Ridge, Illinois, said that over the last two years, they were given inconsistent feedback as to the legality of their wooden treehouse, the Chicago Tribune reports. The treehouse was constructed at Margaret's parents' home atop a partial tree trunk. Drawings for the treehouse, which stands 15 feet above the ground at its highest point, were reportedly approved by the former zoning coordinator of the city. However, last summer a new coordinator said that the structure and its attached inclined walkway are not permitted.

On Jan. 28, the Park Ridge Zoning Board of Appeals agreed with the city officials and ordered that the entire structure be deconstructed. Jim Testin, Director of Community Preservation and Development for Park Ridge, said that treehouses are not permitted because they are not included in the zoning ordinance as structures that are allowed on residential property.

"We did everything they asked us to do," Joseph told the Tribune on Feb. 1. "Now they're trying to change their minds [and say], 'Oh, the previous guy was wrong.'"

According to the city’s official website, a building permit is needed for additions to any structure or building. The couple admitted that they never obtained a separate permit for the structure because the city’s previous building administrator reportedly said it could be added to an existing permit they had for a surface deck, the Tribune notes.

In October 2014, after a neighbor complained about the size of the treehouse, former zoning coordinator Ed Cage advised the couple to decrease the height of the structure and move the structure further away from the side lot line. The Solomons made these changes and the plans were reportedly approved in November of that year.

However, the current coordinator, Howard Coppari, said the treehouse is technically a “shed" and violates the zoning ordinance and needs to be dismantled.

The couple spent a total of $26,300 on the construction of the structure, including the building revisions that were made at Cage's request.

According to Testin, the Solomons can request an amendment from the city to add treehouses to the zoning ordinance.

"I think there's several things that may not be listed as accessory structures that we may want to take a look at to be more inclusive," Testin said.

Loretta Spencer, the grandmother of the couple’s children, said she is happy to have the treehouse on her property and wants to add flower boxes to the structure.

"Everything was put forth in order for us to enjoy the grandchildren," Spencer added.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, City of Park Ridge / Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

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